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Thanks to fast action and the expert training of the Deep River Fire Department (DRFD) and Deep River emergency medical services, two family pets are breathing easier after being trapped in a smoky house fire.
On the night of Aug. 4, the DRFD and Deep River Ambulance were dispatched to a reported structure fire on Stevenstown Road. The caller reported coming home to a house charged with smoke. All the humans were accounted for, but the beloved dog and cat were nowhere in sight—every animal owner’s worst nightmare.
EMS and firefighter crews found a kitchen fire that had extended to the cabinets. The fire was extinguished with a water can and an immediate search started for the owner’s animals, along with ventilation of the area.
In a short time, the dog was found, huddled in a ball and wedged behind the toilet in the bathroom, showing obvious signs of suffering from smoke inhalation. That’s when DRFD and DRAA units administered oxygen with the crew’s special pet oxygen masks.
Next the cat, who also required oxygen and special care, was found.
“This was the first time we had to use our animal rescue training since we had the seminar given by Durham Animal Response Team [DART] last summer,” said Deep River Fire Department Chief Tim Lee.
Lee said it became clear this specialized animal rescue training was important for his department after the department dealt with a fire involving a large animal rescue on Bushy Hill.
“Training is key in the fire service. You can see the effects of training every time the DRFD responds and we are always grateful for opportunities to expand our skillsets. We thank the DART team for teaching us how to better protect animals and, in turn, our community,” said Lee, whose is happy that everyone is safe and the animals have been reunited with their owners after being checked out by a veterinarian.
DART was formed in 2006 by local veterinarian Dr. Steve Levy, who at the time was Durham’s emergency management director. The mission of DART is to support first responders when animal care is involved in emergency situations. It is activated through emergency management by calling 911 or Valley Shore Emergency Communications.
DART representatives hold training programs for area fire and EMS personal regularly, which involves rescue training for large farm animals, such as horses and cattle, as well as domestic animals such as dogs and cats.
“We have a very good relationship with DART and we are gratefully for their specialized training,” said Lee, who gave credit to the Deep River Ambulance Association, as well as his own department for making sure that everyone involved in the fire, two-legged and four-legged, was cared for appropriately.
“We have a couple different-sized animal oxygen masks now, which is great. We can administer oxygen to an animal with a human mask, but it doesn’t fit correctly and you lose a lot of oxygen, so the special masks, made to fit, work best,” said Lee.
A total of 27 Deep River Fire personal responded to the incident with three engine trucks and rescue, along with the Deep River Ambulance with two ambulances and numerous personal. At press time, the homeowners and both animals were reported as all doing well; the fire is currently under investigation by the Deep River Fire Marshal’s Office.
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