A MAJOR drive is underway to ensure every firefighter in Scotland is equipped to save the lives of family pets caught up in devastating house fires.
Firefighters have always worked to resuscitate animals suffering from severe smoke inhalation – including adapting standard oxygen therapy kits used to treat people.
But now – thanks to a pioneering partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws – crews are being given unique oxygen therapy kits especially for animals.
And they have been delivered to more than 270 fire stations across Scotland since the SFRS first joined forces with Smokey Paws in 2016.
The move has even received the backing of Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The specially designed kits – many donated by animal lovers and big-hearted businesses – are designed to fit an animal’s nose and allow enhanced oxygen flow.
They can provide emergency care for ponies, calves and even reptiles as well as cats and dogs.
But Smokey Paws founders Lynn Carberry and Brian Lockyer now want to ensure that every one of Scotland’s 356 fire stations has a kit.
Dedicated Brian said: “When we discovered UK fire and rescue services did not carry lifesaving pet oxygen masks, we imported a set of oxygen masks from the USA and donated them to our local fire service.
“As word spread of our donation, more and more people came forward with offers to donate money to buy more pet oxygen masks for their local stations, to give their pets the best chance of survival in a house fire or road traffic accident.
“This was the start of Smokey Paws and our mission of equipping every fire engine in the UK with pet oxygen masks. Three years on we are proud to have helped supply 2,900 sets but there are still over 900 fire engines in the UK without a Smokey Paws kit.”
Local Senior Officer Paul Devlin has spearheaded the partnership in Scotland on behalf of SFRS.
He said: “The number one priority for firefighters is to save all life and we have seen on too many occasions the huge impact the loss of a beloved pet can have.
“Lynn and Brian identified a gap in the equipment carried on our appliances and introduced this fantastic initiative designed to assist firefighters to deliver the best outcomes for pets and livestock injured or overcome by smoke.
“In November 2015 there was a single Scottish community fire station in possession of one of these kits.
“Three years on it is mind blowing to see first-hand the generosity of so many people and businesses in Scotland who have committed to nominate stations and then purchase kits for distribution to our front-line crews.
“I am aware the kit has been used at incidents ranging from house fires to water rescues to administer lifesaving oxygen therapy and resuscitation. Without the specially designed masks the outcomes could have been very different.
“The SFRS owes a huge thank you to Brian and Lynn for bringing Smokey Paws to the UK fire services.”
LSO Devlin also paid tribute to volunteer Ron Ewing who tragically passed away in July.
Dedicated Ron became one of the scheme’s earliest champions and worked closely with LSO Devlin.
The experienced Fire Officer said: “Ron brought Smokey Paws to me in 2015 and asked if the SFRS would support the kits being issued to our fire stations.
“Over the years he has been instrumental in developing the partnership between Smokey Paws and SFRS.
“He was so dedicated to ensuring every one of our 356 community fire stations are provided with a Smokey Paws kit.
“Ron drove thousands of miles and coordinated the handover events providing our operational personnel with a full introduction to the use and benefits of the equipment.
“Without his enthusiasm and energy, the partnership wouldn’t have achieved what it has within its first three years.”