Millburn-Short Hills Pets Are Ensured Protection in Case of Fire Emergency

By Anya Bochman

Squad goals: Dogs Tuna and Jury demonstrate proper mask use for the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad

The Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad (MSHVFAS), which is 100 percent volunteer-based, is a sort of life-line for the township, providing basic life support to all its community members. Answering emergency calls since its inception in 1958, the squad tends to the sick and injured, transporting them to hospitals if needed.

“We are the 9-1-1 in Millburn,” said Melissa Campbell, squad captain. “And we are comprised entirely of volunteers.”

Every squad member is qualified as an EMT; MSHVFAS provides certified instructors onsite at its facility to teach this vital course. As the squad depends on donations and must be equipped with the most up-to-date technology available in order to provide first aid without charge, outside support is paramount. And while MSHVFAS is well-equipped with medical gear to assist humans when attending to a fire emergency, it was recently aided by a regional company for pet grooming and training via a donation of pet oxygen masks.

Canine Company, which is based in Connecticut, visited MSHFVAS on Wednesday, May 1 to present the organization with two sets of pet oxygen masks, ranging in size from ones that fit large dogs to smaller masks that can accommodate rabbits and cats.

Campbell, who has been MSHVFAS captain since 2014, said the partnership came about after one of the squad members with experience in grant writing applied to Canine Company seeking aid in pet resuscitation equipment.

“[Millburn’s] fire department carries a set of pet masks, too, but in emergencies they may be too busy dealing with people,” Campbell explained.

After Canine Company reviewed MSHFVAS’ application and approved their request for donation, Regional Sales Manager Phil Ziegler and Essex County Representative Judith Stivaly visited the squad’s building to present the masks.

Stivaly read a prepared statement in which she explained Canine Company’s decision to manufacture and donate the lifesaving pet oxygen equipment.

“Our company was founded by a family of pet lovers and our mission is to help other families keep their pets healthy, safe and happy at home,” Stivaly said. “We do that with the products and services we offer, but also through this campaign to donate pet masks to first responders. We are delighted to be able to help the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad protect family pets across the city.”

Campbell, who joined the squad as an EMT in 2010 before becoming captain, and works full time as a nurse, stated that she hasn’t experienced a situation in which a pet oxygen mask was required so far in her career; rather, the acquisition was a preemptive measure.

“We stock everything in our ambulances in triplicate, because you never know what can happen,” Campbell said. “It’s one thing to prepare for, just in case.”

Ziegler and Stivaly were joined by Jury, a yellow lab, and Tuna, a blue American Staffordshire terrier, who took turns demonstrating the proper use of the masks to gathered squad members.

With the donation, MSHVFAS has become one of more than 500 fire departments and rescue squads across the northeast to be equipped with the technology.

“We are so grateful to the Canine Company for donating pet oxygen masks to us,” MSHFVAS said in an official statement on their Web site. “If ever needed, we will be able to provide oxygen effectively to pets in need.”

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