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Marble Falls firefighters learn pet CPR, first aid

Marble Falls Fire Rescue firefighter Ken Schwake is learning how to find the pulse of a pet using a stuffed dog with instruction by Troy Pfeifer, head trainer and owner of Pet Tech. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro


MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls Fire Rescue and Marble Falls Area EMS crews learned how to take a patient’s pulse during a training program Feb. 2 at the station. One of the most challenging things they faced was simply locating a spot on the patient’s body to find that pulse.

This class, after all, covered pet first aid and CPR.

On Jan. 29, Austin-based Invisible Fence donated several pet oxygen mask kits to the departments. (Read more here.) All ambulances and the fire engine will carry the masks. To go along with the equipment, Troy Pfeifer, a Pet Tech instructor, taught the Marble Falls firefighters pet CPR.

Marble Falls Fire Rescue firefighter Ken Schwake set up the class so rescue personnel could earn certifications in pet CPR.

Schwake’s reason for wanting his colleagues to take the class goes back to Lady Gogh, his beloved Dalmation.

“Our pets are our confidants,” he said. “They’re there for us when we’re happy, when we’re sad. They become a part of the family. The loss of a pet can be like losing a family member. We want the people of south Burnet County to understand we recognize pets are part of the family. We want them to know we’re doing the best we can to help them when the time comes.”

Pfeifer, a former software salesman, understood the connection people have with their pets, which is one of the reasons he started Pet Tech.

As a software salesman, Pfeifer earned a good living, but he decided to leave the field for one reason.

“I wanted to give back to the dog community,” he said with a smile. “Everybody thinks I’m crazy. The big thing was, for me, I was able to give this to myself. Every day, I have an impact on people’s lives.”

Pfeifer did not create the CPR class, but all kinds of pet lovers — from owners to sitters to walkers to veterinarian technicians — have reached out to him to learn it.

While Marble Falls firefighters know how to handle human patients, an injured animal brings different challenges.

A pet that’s hurt is apprehensive to accept help, even from their owners. And if it’s a dog, one of the first steps is to muzzle the animal, so people can help it.

Locating the animal’s pulse is one of the toughest parts of teaching pet CPR, Pfeifer said, but the firefighters quickly picked up on it. Pfeifer also demonstrated how to conduct a snout-to-tail assessment of an injured animal.

In addition to teaching pet CPR, the instruction also goes over basic first aid.

Typically, a pet CPR and first-aid class like this one takes six hours, but Pfeifer said the rescue personnel mastered it rather quickly, so they finished up in 2½ hours.

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