S. ABINGTON TWP. — Dr. Nichole Danova, president and director of surgery at Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center (VREC), 318 Northern Blvd., donated pet oxygen masks to area first responders at the Oxygen Kits for K-9’s and Kitties event, held Sept. 27 at VREC. “At VREC, we’ve had a number of distraught patients and clients come in after suffering a house fire,” Danova said in a news release. “The vast majority of these patients come to us in the back of an ambulance, a police car, or from rescuers that were on the scene. “First responders would have questions and concerns asking ‘Did we do everything right?’ or ‘Is there something else we could have done?’ and in the conversation to follow. we realized that a lot of these police officers, EMS or ambulances didn’t have the right supplies. Although they did a great job adapting human products to the animals, they really need animal specific equipment and the most basic solution for animal resuscitation is an oxygen mask.” According to the National Fire Protection Association, it is estimated that 40,000 pets die each year in fires, most succumbing to smoke inhalation. In many instances, emergency responders are not equipped to fully assist animals because they lack specially designed pet oxygen masks and training. “There is a huge need for oxygen masks specific to animals,” said Michael Schuman, EMTB, Commonwealth Health EMS, in the news release. “With this product, we can save the lives of animals by administering oxygen during a very critical time when those patients need to evacuate smoke from their bodies.” Danova and her team at VREC recognized the need and donated more than 85 pet oxygen mask kits to emergency, fire and rescue companies in the region. Units that either already received or are on the list to receive an oxygen mask kit from VREC include Archbald Ambulance, Avoca Ambulance, Black Diamond Ambulance, Blakely Ambulance, Chinchilla Hose Company, Clarks Summit Fire Company, Clifford Fire Company, Commonwealth Health EMS, Cottage Hose Compnay, Crystal Fire Hose Company, Dickson City Ambulance, Dingman Township EMS, Emergency Medical Services of Northeast Pennsylvania, Factoryville Fire Company, Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance, Greenfield Fire Company, Hamlin Fire and Rescue, Jefferson Township Ambulance, Jessup Hose Company Ambulance, Justus Fire Company, Lackawaxen EMS, Moscow Fire Company, Pennsylvania Ambulance, Pittston Township Ambulance, Pocono Mountain Regional EMS and Scott Township Fire Company. VREC is continuing to donate pet oxygen kits. Area first responders interested may call 570-587-7777.