Firefighters Learn How to Care for Pets During Emergencies
Source: Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Starting February 3, nonprofit organization C.A.R.E.4Paws, pet emergency hospital Advanced Veterinary Specialists (AVS) and dog trainer Brian Glen will host a dozen workshops in pet emergency training for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, covering 16 fire stations from Santa Barbara to Santa Maria. The free workshops, offered through C.A.R.E.4Paws’ recently launched Pet Emergency Training (P.E.T.) for First Responders program, will teach County firefighters how to safely care for and treat pets in emergency situations, covering pet first-aid and animal behavior.
According to American Animal Hospital Association, one out of four animals would survive a life-threatening injury if just one first-aid technique was applied before the pet reaches a veterinary hospital. First responders, who are usually the first to arrive on the scene of a fire, accident or other emergency, are generally not trained to provide medical treatment to pets. This is why C.A.R.E.4Paws introduced the P.E.T. program with its partners in November 2019, starting off with five workshops for Santa Barbara City and Montecito Fire Departments.
“We always want to do everything possible for all pets to give them the most favorable outcome,” says Dr. Andrea Wells, owner of AVS and an internal medicine specialist. “Immediate care and stabilization can be key to a successful recovery from injury. We are honored to work with our first responders to provide care for pets in need of urgent attention.”
During each two-hour workshop, Dr. Wells and her AVS team provide at least an hour of hands-on medical training, covering anything from CPR, wound treatment and handling of broken limbs to how to provide fluids and other critical care to an overheated animal. First responders get to practice the different techniques working with dogs and cats owned by AVS staff members.
Because most cats and dogs act differently when injured or in distress, the workshops also focus on animal behavior and techniques for how to safely capture, handle and restrain pets, whether to ensure the animals receive medical treatment or to remove them from a dangerous situation.
During the second half of a workshop, dog trainer Brian Glen talks about dog psychology and shares tools for how to deal with protective or aggressive dogs, who can cause harm to a first responder and prevent the pet owner from receiving critical care in a timely way.
“The goal is to prepare our first responders as much as possible for the various scenarios they encounter that involve pets,” says C.A.R.E.4Paws’ Executive Director Isabelle Gullo, who notes that pet first-aid kits are in the works to be carried aboard fire engines and other emergency vehicles. “We also want to share information about the many services C.A.R.E.4Paws offers for low-income, senior, and homeless community members so that first responders can share these resources with the pet owners they meet in the field.”
These services include assistance with veterinary care, vaccinations and spays/neuters in C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile clinic, help with pet food, information about animal abuse, and access to a brand-new program that assists victims of domestic violence and their pets.
The first of the 12 upcoming workshops with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will take place on Monday, February 3, at the department’s Station 26 in Orcutt (1600 Tiffany Park Court) from 10am to noon.
“The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is excited to engage in these not only pertinent, but very beneficial skills for our firefighters,” says Public Information Officer Captain Daniel Bertucelli. “We, as first responders, encounter animals on a regular basis and knowing how to approach, calm and treat an animal in distress to ensure a positive outcome is important for all involved.”
For more information about Pet Emergency Training (P.E.T.) for First Responders, visit care4paws.org/pet or contact C.A.R.E.4Paws at [email protected] or (805) 968-2273.