Would you know what to do if your pet stopped breathing and needed CPR?
The other day I woke up and kicked that darn thing called procrastination in the butt! The justification? I needed to learn pet CPR and first aid. If not for the health and well-being of my pets but the selfish reason, I would never forgive myself if they were in distress and I was unable to save them. So today I took the first step and signed up for a Pet Tech CPR and First Aid Class.
For years Pet Tech has been the most recognized pet CPR and first aid course in the country, and it is the training course used by the majority of professional pet care organizations as well as Homeland Security and the TSA. The Pet Tech First Aid and CPR class is an intensive five-hour course that’s combines lectures, demonstrations with hands-on skill practice. The course is designed to give a person the fundamental skills and (more importantly) a game plan in case a pet in their care has a medical emergency.
The pet tech class started at 10 am on a Sunday, and we met our instructor Lorna Li at her lovely apartment in Manhattan. This Sunday’s class was on the smaller side, and after introductions, the three of us sat down in Lorna’s living room to begin the course. We were giving a course workbook and a stuffed dog to use for hands-on practice. Lorna started each section with a detailed powerpoint presentation and a lecture covering the main themes and skill sets. A demonstration followed this and then plenty of hands-on practice on our dummy dogs.
Pet First Aid and CPR is all about the immediate care of an injured or ill pet and the first thing we learned is how to approach a scene where a pet is injured. The most important lesson here is that the best ways to protect the pet and yourself from further harm are to follow the P.E.T.A.I.D protocol. This is a skill set that teaches the first responder how to assess the immediate environment before approaching an injured pet to protect oneself and the pet from further injury. This includes essential skills like how to muzzle a dog with everyday objects like a belt or shoelace so you can safely render medical assistance and transport to the nearest pet emergency hospital. It’s important always to remember that by slowing down, thinking and following the P.E.T.A.I.D systematic approach is what’s going to help you safely transition into first responder mode and save a pet’s life.
Once you have properly managed the scene and are sure it’s safe to come to the aid of an injured pet, there are only three possible situations that a first responder could run into:
The crux of the pet tech course is learning how to assess which of the above situations the pet is in and how to act accordingly.
PET FIRST AID includes bleeding protocols and how to properly bandage a wound for emergency transport, shock management, heat stroke and seizures.
PET CPR possibly the most life threatening of the three, is where the pet has lost its heartbeat (no pulse) and the ability to breath. This situation requires immediate external chest compressions and rescue breathing for the pet to survive.
PET RESCUE BREATHING in this situation, a heartbeat is present, but the pet is unable to breathe on its own, an example would be choking or poisoning. The first responder is required to manually inflate the pet’s lungs until the obstruction has been cleared or until the pet is transported to emergency care.
Three highlights of the class were the “live action” scenarios where we had the chance to approach a “dummy” dog with a possible life threatening injury, and we practiced proper protocols and life-saving first aid techniques. This felt realistic, and interestingly, no one got it perfect their first try. Even though it’s a mock event, there’s a lot to think about, and it’s easy to miss a simple but important step. The second was the personal stories and experiences that the instructor and the other students shared. I find hearing about other people’s scary pet emergency experiences with a discussion of how best to handle the situation to be interesting and puts the whole class into perspective. The third highlight was the excellent instruction by Lorna Li. Not only is she a patient and articulate instructor but she has a wealth of hands-on experience, and she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the class.
I left The PetTech CPR and First Aid class a more confident pet parent than when I came in. I know I now have the skills to give my pet (or yours) life-saving CPR and first aid and that’s an excellent feeling. I would highly recommend that if this is something that interests you, to get off that procrastination train and spend a day with Lorna Li and PetTech.