Ron Henley and Judy Splain pose with golden retriever and pet oxygen mask

Pet Oxygen Mask Donation for WilCo EMS

Thanks to the Travis County Kennel Club, Williamson County EMS paramedics are now better able to help not just people, but their pets, too.

WilCo field paramedic Judy Splain has worked as an EMT at the Kennel Club’s annual dog show for years. In 2015, she met club representative Ron Henley and told him how beneficial it would be for the county to have pet oxygen masks on their trucks. That conversation inspired Ron to arrange for the profits of the dog show to be used to purchase and donate 20 pet-specific oxygen mask kits to WilCo EMS.

“It was a very generous gift from wonderful people,” says Judy, who explains that she regularly encounters pets at accident and fire scenes. “I had a couple of instances where I assisted pups on a fire scene; the fire truck had a pet mask, and it was very effective. Being the animal lover that I am, I started asking around about how to get more masks. That led me to Ron Henley, who quickly outfitted all of our EMS trucks with masks.”

In a January story on KVUE, Ron explained, “This is a piece of equipment a lot of first responders don’t have.” The masks are specifically made to seal around the animal’s muzzle, allowing it to get as much oxygen as possible. Each kit contains small, medium, and large snout-shaped masks with oxygen tubing and a connection that attaches to a bag valve mask (BVM), which is used to ventilate the animals if they are not breathing adequately.

More and more, Judy says she notices people who have only their pets to call family and others who have pets as part of their “pack” along with their children. “Dogs are in almost every home I come across,” she says, “and both dogs and cats are often companions in cars, so we encounter them on calls all the time.” She adds that many of her patients care more for their pet’s safety than their own. The masks can help paramedics like Judy save a pet right on the scene of an accident.

Most animals do not resist the masks, Judy says. “They are very still as if they know you’re helping them. Having this equipment helps us to provide excellent customer service for our citizens and their family members, even the furry ones,” she says. “It’s a great feeling.”

Judy recently had the opportunity to use a new mask on a dog that was trapped in a house during a fire. “When they brought him out, he was limp,” she says. “I kept the mask on his face for several minutes; he began lifting his head and eventually sat up and was able to drink water shortly after that.”

Extremely thankful for the donation, Judy says, “We love our Williamson County residents and want to provide them with the most excellent service that is available. Thanks to the Travis County Kennel Club, we are able to accomplish that goal.”

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