They improvised for years as best they could with oxygen masks designed for children, but from now on, Macon-Bibb firefighters and police will be ready with pet oxygen masks when responding to emergencies involving smoke asphyxiation.
Police and fire officials showed off the new equipment at the Macon-Bibb fire administration building Monday. Macon attorney Teresa Saggese Mills, who donated the oxygen mask kits, also spoke.
“As an attorney, I can face almost anything,” she said. “But when I see an animal suffer or see an owner suffer over the loss of a pet, you’ll see more waterworks here than in the whole water authority.”
Saggese Mills specializes in employment law. An animal lover, she has volunteered for the Humane Society and fostered animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
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When her practice was in Atlanta, she learned of the need for emergency responders to use oxygen masks for pets.
She contacted PetsAmerica.org and ordered nine kits to equip the four Macon police precincts and five fire rescue vehicles. Each kit, valued at $95, includes a set of masks for large, medium and small pets.
Assistant Fire Chief Shane Edwards said training for emergency medical technicians on how to use the new equipment will begin this week.
Recently, he said, one of his firefighters performed CPR on a dog found at the bottom of a swimming pool. The dog survived. Edwards didn’t have numbers on how many pets die due to fires each year, but he acknowledged “it happens far too often.”
Saggese Mills, who owns two cats, cited Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration for supporting the cause, delivering one of his famous quotes. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”