CPR Training for Firefighters


Winchester, MA, November 22, 2013 – The Winchester Fire Department reached out to Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, a 24 hour veterinary emergency and specialty hospital in Woburn, to train their team on how to safely stabilize a dog or a cat rescued from a fire. We were honored to be given this opportunity, and deeply appreciative of the fire department’s proactive approach to serving their community.

Every firefighter knows the value of a family’s pets, understands all that is being lost in a fire, and will make every reasonable effort to rescue those pets.  In recognition of this relationship, most, if not all, fire departments in Massachusetts have been issued oxygen masks for dogs and cats. While the basic rules for first aid and CPR are the same in all mammals, there are key differences between humans, and dogs and cats.

“We value the opportunity to provide educational opportunities like this to our community,” said Barbara Travers, Hospital Services Manager for the Emergency Department at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. “Our team of emergency doctors and technicians are deeply dedicated to saving lives. If a firefighter can stabilize and safely transport a rescued animal to us, it can give us a real chance at keeping a family intact when everything else is gone. It was an honor to play a role in the learning and development of the team at the Winchester Fire Department.”

Over the course of one week in early November, emergency veterinarians and veterinary technicians trained Winchester Firefighters in animal first aid and CPR. The course was repeated four times to give 36 firefighters the opportunity to attend. The two-hour course covered anatomy, vital signs and hands on CPR using canine dummies. The firefighters learned how to find a femoral pulse, how to place an injured animal on a backboard for transportation, how to apply oxygen masks, and were given tips on approaching fearful and often, dangerous, wounded animals. Firefighters were given the hands-on opportunity to learn hand placement, body position, amount of force to apply for successful CPR, as well as best practices and variations in CPR for dogs of different sizes, different breeds and in cats.

Doctors Beth Eisenberg (pictured above), Katrina Abell, Melissa Miele and Jenna Scibilia presented the material, veterinary technicians Kristen Gutierrez (pictured above), Alyssa Weid, CVT, Sara Marqunihos, Sandra Hamilton, CVT,  Judy Keator, Martha Rogovin, CVT, Amanda Watson, CVT and Amanda Sendelbach provided assistance with the hands-on training.

“We cannot thank the Emergency veterinary team at Mass Vet enough for all that they have done,” Said Joshua Fiore, Paramedic Coordinator for the Winchester Fire Department. “The instructors were very enthusiastic and the hands-on session was incredibly informative. We took this class because we wanted to learn how to help pets that are rescued from a house fire. With this knowledge, the people of Winchester can be assured that we will help, to the best of our abilities, to aid the veterinary professionals in saving their pets.”

The medical teams at all the hospitals within the IVG network are dedicated to lifelong learning and the advancement of knowledge, being given the opportunity to transfer some of this knowledge in the service of our communities is an honor and its own reward.