BARBERTON, Ohio -- After reading news accounts of donated oxygen masks for pets earlier this year, Fire Chief Kim Baldwin realized his department also lacked the equipment necessary to revive non-breathing animals in an emergency.
Baldwin, who accepted four of the lifesaving masks Thursday, said unbeknownst to him, while researching ways to obtain Pet Oxygen Recovery Mask Kits, students in the four-city educational compact's Advancement to Nursing classes at Barberton High School had a project with the same goal well under way.
"Many people view their pets as family members," Baldwin told a crowd gathered for the presentation of the mask kits by Invisible Fence Brand employees Thursday in Barberton.
"Guys in the fire service know that, unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do for pets," that suffer smoke inhalation in a residential fire, Baldwin said.
The Advancement to Nursing class -- students from Barberton, Copley, Norton and Wadsworth high schools -- took on the challenge of obtaining oxygen mask kits as part of their SkillsUSA's Career Pathways Showcase community project.
The students explained their mission to representatives from area police and fire departments who had gathered at Barberton's Central Station to accept their kits. The students raised $400 toward financing the project at Medina Swarm Agility in Wadsworth by handing out homemade dog treats and giving their presentation to area groups.
Rob Myers, of Invisible Fence Brand in Canton, Ohio, told the group that the company has donated 10,000 masks throughout the United States and Canada to first responders since the program, called Project Breathe, was established in 2006. The masks are credited with saving the lives of 80 pets, including two in Columbus, Ohio, in June and one pet recently in Akron, Ohio.
"Forty thousand pets a year die in fires, most of them, from smoke inhalation," Myers told the group. "Invisible Fence is in the business of keeping pets safe at home."
Invisible Fence donated 57 oxygen kits to 15 area police and fire departments Thursday. With help from the Red Cross, students raised about $700 in donations for the project.
"Any fire department or first responders can make a request for masks online" at www.invisiblefence.com/ 02, Invisible Fence representative Kaitlin Jocke said.