The West Branch Fire Department is better equipped for saving pets from house fires after a donation of animal oxygen masks and buying a dog CPR unit.
Like some other departments, they had little to no training on how to save animals that had been exposed to smoke ventilation.
"We really haven't had any training prior to getting the kits on what we would do. I mean obviously people have tried oxygen masks and that kind of stuff which are made for humans, not really for animals," Sandy Heick said.
Heick is the West Branch Fire Medical Officer and was instrumental in getting the masks for the department.
"[Human mask] doesn't really fit so you get a lot of air leakage so it doesn't allow you to really ventilate their lungs very well."
Each of their three trucks now have the necessary oxygen masks for animals in various sizes, depending on the animal. This happening after a donation from an organization called "Air For Paws."
"Cats, dogs basically to use to try revive animals that we would pull out fires that aren't burned but are suffering from smoke ventilation," Heick said.
To help in training the firefighters with the masks, Heick also acquired a new dog CPR unit. She said it was important to do because if a firefighter has to use a mask on an animal, it's likely they'd need to perform CPR too.
The owner of four pets herself, three dogs and a cat, the idea hits home for her.
"If something happened at my home, losing the home wouldn't be as devastating as losing my animals," she said.
Heick said the donation of the masks is the first time a fire department in the state of Iowa has received one from the organization. Since receiving them, she's been spreading the word in hopes of other departments acquiring them themselves.