Pet First Aid

Chaotic scene greets Animal Science students in the name of learning

Sirens were blaring, dogs were barking, buildings were being blown up, and students in the Animal Science class took it all in stride during a series of simulated exercises that enabled them to practice their pet first aid skills. Students tended to their “injured” pets like true pros.

“It’s an emergency!” Mr. D’Abruzzo announced as he hit a button on his computer to start the sound of an ambulance siren. “All right, let the chaos begin!”

Students immediately scrambled to find the supplies they would need for a dog that had a broken back leg.

The exercises of providing first aid to an injured animal was a competition among students developed by teacher Mike D’Abruzzo to help them master first aid skills on pets. He divided the class into small groups and had them work on hypothetical injuries on a stuffed dog used for such purposes. One student was responsible for attending to the injured animal; another watched and evaluated the animal tender’s techniques; and a third student was the panicked pet owner and another distraction to further add chaos to the situation. While this was going on, loud noises blasted through the classroom, mimicking some of the sounds that might occur in each situation. The groups had three minutes to complete each procedure.

“I know what to do,” Jade Saccomanno, a senior at Harrison High School, said after completing each scenario. “I think in a real-life situation I am confident in my skills.”

Jade added she preferred to work on applying different types of bandages on a wounded pet over administering CPR because the bandages are easier.

Following each of the exercises, the students discussed how each pet rescuer did and made suggestions as to what could be done differently.

The students administering the first aid were judged on whether they secured the scene, demonstrated the correct intervention, completed the task within the time limit, and shared information on how best to transport the injured animal to the veterinarian’s office.

In another situation, a child was cutting a dog’s hair and accidently clipped the dog’s ear causing it to bleed. In other hypothetical situations students had to work on a dog that was oozing blood, another in which the animal was spurting blood and finally a dog that was choking on a toy in which Initially, the animal was conscious, but fell unconscious.

“Remember, in an emergency situation it doesn’t have to be the prettiest thing. Our job is to secure the animal and get them to a vet, that’s first aid,” Mr. D’Abbruzzo told his students.

During the discussion following the exercises, students addressed whether it was necessary to put a muzzle on a dog while it was being treated.

One student suggested it was appropriate because the dog would be in pain and could bite. During the different exercises, some students opted for a dog muzzle while others created one from gauze or the dog’s leash.They also discussed when it is appropriate to administer CPR on an animal. In the scenario in which the dog was choking on a toy, they concluded that CPR would not have benefitted the pet because its airway was restricted.

Working under pressure was the most challenging part of the competition, Arlette Rivera, a senior at New Rochelle High School, said.

“But I was able to tune out the noise,” she said.

While the scenarios were hypothetical, the practical knowledge was real.

“It’s obviously a learning experience,” Arlette said of the competition. “But it’s always better to know ahead of time and better to be prepared,” she said.