Vinton First Aid Crew and Vinton Veterinary Hospital team up to teach Pet First Aid

VINTON–The Vinton First Aid Crew and the Vinton Veterinary Hospital are teaming up to offer Pet First Aid classes to citizens of Vinton and East Roanoke County. The classes will focus on life-saving techniques for serious injuries to pets, which might result from smoke inhalation during a fire, or from being hit by a vehicle, as well as from heat stroke, ingesting a toxic substance, or other life-threatening situations.

Using a dog mannequin and equipment which will include pet masks and air pumps, participants will learn how to give air to pets, how to do compressions, and how to un-choke a pet—basically pet CPR.

As with humans, the goal of pet CPR is to provide sufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain and vital organs to support life until more advanced medical therapy can be started.

Nowadays many ambulances carry appartus to care for pets in the event of smoke inhalation as the result of a house fire. Vinton will be adding the equipment soon.

The class will be taught by Assistant Chief Wayne Guffey of the First Aid Crew with the assistance of some of the seven other crew members certified through the American Health and Safety Institute (ASHI). Classes are held at the Vinton First Aid Crew building in downtown Vinton.

The Vinton First Aid Crew and the Vinton Veterinary Hospital are co-sponsoring a Pet First Aid class. Dr. Kathie Neel (left), is a vet at the hospital. Wayne Guffey, Assistant Chief of the First Aid Crew (shown with his dog, Lilly) will be teaching the class, which will focus on life-saving techniques using equipment similar to what is seen on the examining table.














The Pet First Aid class will be one session, about three to four hours in length. There is no age requirement, although students do need to be old enough to understand instructions and to take a written test for certification at the conclusion of the class.

The cost of the class is $10.00. For an additional $30.00, participants can purchase a pet first aid kit.

The Vinton Veterinary Hospital is teaming up with the First Aid Crew in sponsoring the classes in pet first aid. Sonya Barton, office manager, will be coordinating the training with the First Aid Crew.

In addition to life-saving techniques, students will be taught other basic procedures to assist pets whose lives might be in danger.

“The most important thing to learn is not to panic,” said Guffey.

Dr. Kathie Neel, a veterinarian at the hospital since 1983, recommends some preventative measures that may prevent serious accident or help to alleviate emergency situations.

“The most common cause of choking in dogs is rawhide chews,” said Neel. “The chews often get caught in the dog’s throat once they are moist. When we get calls, we advise the pet owner to reach their hand in the dog’s throat and pull out the chew if they can reach it.”

Dr. Neel also recommends keeping rope or gauze at home or in a vehicle to make a muzzle if a dog is injured, but not unconscious. Even a beloved pet will bite when in pain. Other common mistakes that people make regarding pets are giving human medications to pets, accidentally giving pets access to household products which may be toxic, and keeping dogs confined during hot weather.

“If you find your pet unconscious or ill, take a survey of what might be missing in the home, what they might have gotten into,” said Neel.

At this time of year, pet owners need to be especially cognizant of the heat index.

“Dogs should not be tied up outside or on a run without shade during hot weather when the temperature is in the 80’s and the heat index is high,” said Neel. “They should not be left in a car. Water must be available. You can check for heat stroke by feeling their gums. If they are dry and sticky, the dog may be dehydrated.”

Groups or individuals who are interested in the Pet First Aid class can email the training center director Assistant Chief Wayne Guffey at, or call 983-0627, option 2 and leave a message.

The Vinton First Aid Crew also offers community classes in CPR, AED (Automated External Defibrillator), Basic First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogens, Child and Baby-sitting classes, and CPR-PRO and Advanced Cardiac Life Support classes for EMS and hospital personnel.