By Bud McKay, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Garrison Public AffairsDecember 20, 2018
Furry residents of all sizes on Joint Base Lewis-McChord received an early Christmas gift Monday, Dec. 17, everyone hopes they'll never have to unwrap.
Eight pet oxygen system kits were donated to the JBLM Fire Department by Pet Brigade, a private pet boarding business located on JBLM North. Each kit has three oxygen masks for pets that come in three sizes -- small, medium and large -- for firefighters to use to help cats, dogs and even horses suffering from smoke asphyxiation from fires.
"The majority of home fires we respond to have animals," said James Elways, JBLM's deputy fire chief, who accepted the kits. "We've had a few (pets) in those fires that we found that were unconscious."
The most recent was Snow -- then a nearly 2-year-old white husky -- in a house fire in the Clarkmoor housing area on JBLM Main Jan. 3, 2017. After finding Snow, whose normal snow-white fur was a metal-gray in color, nearly unconscious, firefighters carried her out of the house and then struggled to use their own face mask air regulators to help Snow breathe.
Snow survived but needed intense medical care for a couple of months after the fire. Snow's owner, Pfc. Christina Carter, brought the healthy Snow to the fire station March 5, 2017, to thank the firefighters who rescued her.
"The new (pet oxygen systems) will be so much better because now we can simply place them directly on the snouts of the animals," Elways said.
Now training will get underway for the JBLM firefighters and paramedics on how to use the pet oxygen systems.
"The concept is basically the same, but we'll simply concentrate on how many liters (of oxygen) per minute, by the type of animal, we need to use," said Ray Waliany, a firefighter/paramedic and one of the fire department's trainers.
The donation of the kits to JBLM was one of three for the owners of Pet Brigade -- Regis and Nancy Jackson. Earlier in the day, they also donated eight kits each to the Graham and Orting fire departments.
"It's a gift we hope you never have to use," said Regis Jackson.