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Victims of Cleveland house fire donate pet oxygen masks to EMS department

Chris Hutchison and his girlfriend Gina donated the masks, enough for the whole division.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Division of Emergency Medical Service has always had human-sized masks to resuscitate patients in emergency situations, but an unlikely situation has now stocked them with ones for pets, as well.

EMS responded along with the Cleveland Division of Fire to a blaze on Dartmouth Avenue a few weeks ago, and unfortunately the fire destroyed the home. Owners Chris Hutchison and his girlfriend Gina had lived there for years, and alerted fire crews many of their six animals were still inside the burning home.

Three of them did not make it, and one of the other three had to be resuscitated with a human mask by EMS. In the days that followed, neighbors of Chris and Gina offered to help pay for expenses the couple faced after the fire, but they had a different idea.

"Everything, I think, was meant happen in this scenario," Chris explained. "I happened to see an article on a fire station in California which had just gotten dog masks, and I'm like, 'We need dog masks.'"

Hutchison called Commander Chris Chapin, the spokesperson for the EMS department, and asked if they could donate some pet-sized masks if they came up with the money. When Chapin willingly said yes, Hutchison and his neighbors got to work.

"We have awesome neighbors there in the Kamm's Corner neighborhood," Hutchison said. "Everyone stepped up and did their part — printed fliers, got the word out, all the local businesses, and it all just came together."

They held a fundraiser at a local bar and came up with just enough money to purchase the masks for the department. Now, EMS has kits with large dog, small dog, and cat-sized masks in them. There are also enough for each ambulance, plus more to spare, and they're all re-usable.

"It's peace of mind," Commander Chapin told 3News. "When we are able to save a family's animal despite losing everything else, it shows them this isn't the end of the road."


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