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A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances

In the Federal Register, dated July 19, 2010, a notice and invitation was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation (NHTSA). This Thursday – August 5th – NHTSA will be hosting a Public Meeting to hear comments regarding the newly-submitted draft recommendations for the safe transport of children in emergency ground ambulances.

What wonderful news! It’s about time that positive steps are finally being taken in the effort to establish consistent Federal guidelines for the safe transport of infants and children in emergency vehicles. This is most definitely a banner day for the Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

The issue of inconsistent guidelines for child emergency transport was first highlighted in a 1998 survey of state requirements for child safety restraints in ambulances, and the resulting report was the first to identify the many variations in guidelines existing from one state to another.

The PedRESTIn 1999, a national consensus committee was convened to review EMS child transport practices. The resulting document, the “Do’s And Don’ts of Transporting Children in an Ambulance”, provided general guidance for EMS practitioners in the field. This document has remained the guide for the industry from then until now, even though protocols and practices remained inconsistent, often varied across jurisdictions and sometimes provided limited or inadequate guidance.

This problem is finally being publically recognized. The July 19th issue of the Federal Register states: “Currently there are no Federal standards or standard protocols among EMS and child safety professionals in the U.S. for how best to transport children safely in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or a medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. The absence of consistent national standards and protocols regarding the transportation of children in ground ambulances complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers. As a result, EMS agencies, advocates and academicians have turned to NHTSA for leadership on this issue.”

In September of 2008, in recognition of the need for improving child-oriented, safe, emergency ambulance transport, NHTSA initiated a project called: “Solutions To Safely Transport Children In Emergency Vehicles”, and formed a Working Group of experts in the field of Emergency Medical Services for the purpose of “drafting consistent national recommendations that will be embraced by local, state and national EMS organizations, enabling them to reduce the frequency of inappropriate and potentially unsafe transportation of ill, injured, or not sick/uninjured children in ground ambulances.”

In June of 2009, this website, Pediatric Safety.net was launched. This site made public awareness of the lack of safety guidelines and the use of inappropriately sized, non harness–equipped stretchers for child transport a primary concern. As a means of promoting awareness of the problem, pediatricsafety.net established a cause, ANSR (Ambulances Need Safety Regulations) for kids, which included a petition to be forwarded to each signer’s congressmen. The hope was that if enough people signed the petition, attention would force the government to play an active role in finding a viable solution to the problem.Pediatric Rapid Emergency Safe Transport (PedREST)

In its “Innovation” section, pediatricsafety.net followed the development of the PedREST, a child-size safety transport system for infants and young children. From its humble beginnings as a crayon drawing concept idea, to a video prototype and now a physical prototype, the PedREST seemed to be a credible answer to the problem. Designed by an Emergency Medical Technician, it could, with a small amount of additional design modification by a qualified engineer, become this desperately needed safety transport device.

I am the cause advocate for Pediatric Safety. Two of my daughters were key in developing the PedREST. It took 15 years to get the PedREST through the patent process and the building of a prototype. Once created, it was disheartening to realize that companies were not falling all over themselves for the opportunity to take the idea and help commercialize it, so that it could be put to use as quickly as possible. What could be more important than protecting the life of an infant or small child already in the care of the very people committed to doing just that? What was even more upsetting was the fact that, even though so many articles had been written about the need for government intervention to establish industry guidelines, nothing had been publicly introduced over all these years to show that steps were at least being taken to that end.

Statistics say it all:*

  1. Approximately 1 in 10 patient ambulance transports involve children. The result: 6 Million Children are transported by emergency medical vehicles each year
  2. 3 out of every 100 transports involve children under 5 years of age. The result: approx. 1.8 million children are transported by emergency vehicles each year
  3. 5,000 ambulance crashes per year with minor to fatal results. The result: approx. 4 child fatalities per year

I think the time has finally come for action!

  • Participate in the public hearing concerning the draft recommendations on safe transport for children on ambulances. Register for the webinar by sending an email to: sandy.sinclair@dot.gov
  • Please sign the ANSR petition and tell your congressman/woman that we require that our kids be transported safely on ambulances – anything else is unacceptable!

Help us help NHTSA pass formal regulations and guidelines to be used on local, state, and national levels to keep our kids safe when they need it the most.

With thanks from all my grandchildren, and from me.

Sandy Schnee

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Reference:

Air Travel Safety for Kids

The Yapta Blog is an online site for comments and ideas concerning travel-related situations for the travel industry. In an article on air travel and child safety dated May 28, 2010, Jeff Pecor wrote that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was recommending that infants and young children flying on airplanes, be strapped into their own safety seat to protect them in case of air turbulence or a survivable crash.

Air Travel SafetyThough not enforceable, and just a suggestion for now, the NTSB is hoping that at some time in the future, steps would be taken to make it a requirement that anyone traveling with a young child would have to purchase a seat for that child and secure him/her in a safety harness. If they are successful in their mission, no longer would anyone be allowed to fly while holding a child in their lap. If turbulence causes the plane to suddenly lose altitude, that child could become a projectile and be seriously injured. It could be that and worse if the plane is involved in a crash and the unrestrained child is thrown a distance from the crash site. It appears to me, that a very important part of providing protection for our youngest citizens has virtually been ignored for a long time.

I appreciate the fact that Mr. Pecor has brought the information from the NTSB to our attention, and by doing so, has shown a spotlight on the inadequacy of the airline industry to make available to young children, the same protection from injury accorded to that child’s parents.

It’s a very small leap that brings my mind to another industry with a similar deficit in its ability to protect the young children in its care. I’m referring to a vocation where the saving of lives can be, and often is, an everyday occurrence. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is far behind in being able to offer the safe transport of children with equipment that is specifically designed and sized for pediatric patients. And even though the equipment is available, no state or federal agency has stepped up to the plate to do whatever it takes to support it, test it, and make it available. It’s very scary when you consider the number of children being transported unprotected in the passenger compartment of a speeding ambulance, flying through intersections on a daily basis. I am left questioning why the NTSB has, to my knowledge, neither lobbied for, nor put pressure on Congress to enact laws that specifically regulate how care is administered to infants and young children in the rear compartment of an ambulance.

I believe that both situations call out for the correction of a serious deficit in the way children are transported; one, as a passenger on a plane, two, as a passenger in an ambulance or other rescue vehicle.

Both situations require immediate action and new regulations. There are children’s lives at stake.

Child Passenger Safety is a 24/7/365 Job

Surprised PosterFor one week, Child Passenger Safety was on everyone’s mind! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council combined to make an all-out effort to get the message out: parents and other caregivers need to make the right choices regarding child safety car seats…and resources are available…help is available.

But one week is not enough time to get the message out to all who need to hear it. Child passenger safety, when it comes to choosing the right car seat, installing it properly, and making sure it that it is appropriately latched, is an issue that requires addressing 24 hours a day/ 7days a week/ 365 days a year.

To that end, the message has to continue. Everyone you know who transports young children needs to know that free help is available for the purpose of making sure that they are choosing safe car seats and using them properly.

On Twitter: Any child passenger safety questions will be answered by an actual safety expert. Go to the @ChildSeatSafety account on Twitter.

On Facebook: The page at http://facebook.com/childpassengersafety is the place for parents to learn about the LATCH program, location of inspection offices, and any other up-to-date information from NHTSA.

On the Website: Created by the Ad Council, in conjunction with NHTSA, http://childcarsafety.adcouncil.org/ is a website for parents to go to in order to be able to view instructional videos, locate inspection stations, and take a fun quiz to make sure you have the correct information regarding child passenger safety.

The more caregivers who become aware of, and utilize this information, the more childrens’ lives we save.

National Child Safety 1

We all need to observe National Child Passenger Safety Week

Unacceptable PosterWe struggle in so many ways to keep our children and grandchildren safe from the many dangers we know are out there, both on the streets and in our homes. Yet surprisingly, even those who love them the most, are willing to do everything in their power to protect them from harm, still allow them to be exposed to a dangerous situation, sometimes several times a day. I’m talking about the few minutes required to make sure they are properly restrained in their car.

I’m a grandma. When my own children were young, there were no child restraint safety seats, therefore, no safety regulations regarding their use. Seatbelts were the only safety measures available in cars, and their use was not yet mandatory. Today, with the availability of four types of safety restraints for children based on age, height and weight statistics – and a step-by-step instruction guide to help you figure out which one you need (thank you!) – the watchdogs of child safety have made the use of the proper restraint a no-brainer. Combined with easy-to-follow installation methods (including offering videos as well as live help options) the only part of protection that remains to be taken care of is making sure the restraints are closed properly. That job was never intended to be left for the “kids” to handle themselves. What I think has happened over the last number of years is, with Mom or another caregiver transporting children to school, doctors, play dates, lessons, sports, shopping, etc . . . , everyone is in and out of the car so many times a day, that the easy way out took precedence over what is correct. We let the kids buckle themselves in. But making sure they are safe is an adult responsibility.

It’s time for a reality check. Too many children are killed or maimed each year because an otherwise loving, conscientious caregiver did not realize that the child safety restraint was not the proper one, was not installed correctly, or was not secured the right way. These are senseless and preventable tragedies.

National Child Safety 1

Reaching out to and teaching these loving caregivers that help is available to minimize or eliminate the injuries sustained by children in a car crash has become the mission of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This week, September 12 through September18, has been designated National Child Passenger Safety Week. Using all the tools at its disposal to spread awareness and make safety checks available to anyone interested in keeping children safe while being transported in a car. NHTSA has gone all-out to spread the word.

We wish everyone concerned in this worthwhile endeavor “good luck”. We’re hoping that every person reading this takes the time to forward the information and the links to all the caregivers they know.

Higher Penalties For Unrestrained Children…Says an 8th Grader

It took an eighth-grader researching a civics project to get the attention of the public regarding a serious child safety issue. Alexa Sepulveda was so moved by what she learned, she wrote a letter to the editor and it was published by Shore News Today on April 28,-2009 Her letter was so incredibly insightful that I wanted to share it with you here in its entirety:

To the editor:

Hello, my name is Alexa Sepulveda and I am an eighth-grade student at the Galloway Township Middle School. I am currently doing a civics project and my topic is increasing the penalty for driving with an unrestrained child in the car.

This has become an issue which, in my opinion, isn’t addressed enough. I believe that the penalty should be increased because it would deter parents from not putting their children in a car seat or booster seat. Restraining a child in a car will make everyone safer while driving.

safety seatsFor my project I have done some research, and the facts are frightening. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in October 2002 showed that 42 percent of all unintentional childhood deaths were due to automobile crashes.

According to NHTSA, every day in the United States during 2006, an average of five children ages 14 and younger were killed due to crashes. During 2006, 6,983 car passengers age 14 and younger were involved in fatal crashes. For those children, 25 percent were unrestrained; among those who were fatally injured, 45 percent were unrestrained.

Most people think that they will never get into an accident, but it happens every day and you have to be prepared for when it does.

Many parents install car seats wrong, say they can’t pay for a seat or misuse it once it is installed. This is understandable for new parents or guardians whose financial situation isn’t good. For these reasons, many car dealerships, baby supply stores and police stations have places and times where you can take your car seat and they will install it in your car properly for you. If you are unable to buy a child restraint, there are many organizations that are more than willing to assist you in getting one.

As you can see, this is an ongoing issue all around us. In doing this topic as my project, I am hoping to make children safer, and to educate people about the need to restrain children to keep everyone safer.

Alexa reminds us of some important things: accidents can happen…we must make sure we are prepared so our children are safe if they do…and we are not alone, there are others who can help us get there.

Schnee - National child passenger safety week notice

Coincidentally, National Child Passenger Safety Week is coming on September 12th through 18th. It is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I’m hoping that all of you travelling in cars with young children take advantage of this opportunity to check that they are safely restrained. And a great big hug to Alexa Sepulveda for caring.

Thank you, Texas! Little Kids Need to Travel Safely

Schnee - Texas_capital1Having been one of the last 6 remaining states without a child safety seat requirement, Texas passed a law, effective September 1, 2009 requiring children under the age of 8 and/or 4 feet 9 inches in height to be restrained in a child safety seat system. This includes a traditional child safety seat with a harness or a booster seat which will raise the child up enough to allow the car’s seat belt and shoulder harness to protect the child in the appropriate places and not do more harm.

http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/local/local_story_178185644.html

The necessity for protecting the youngest in our society is an adult responsibility, long overdue. So if we protect them from accidental injury while a passenger in a car, shouldn’t we be providing that same protection when they are sick and/or hurt and traveling at high speeds in an ambulance?

Something to think about . . . and maybe do something about? Isn’t every child’s life worth it???

If you agree, then there is something we can all do to help make a difference right this very minute

A lot of folks don’t know that we’re not transporting kids safely in ambulances – including those folks in Washington who could pass some laws to do something about this. So let’s make sure enough people know about this that it can’t be passed over. (…and hey, when you’re all done entering the contest, please leave a comment and let other people know what you think about safe ambulance transport for kids)

Introducing: Thank you, Texas! Little Kids Need to Travel Safely Contest

The Prize :

To two first place winners to thank you for helping us make a difference: one month of Starbucks Frappuccinos (or $25 worth on a Starbucks card)

And Here’s How it Works:

Below you will find our CONTEST ENTRY FORM. It includes our MANDATORY entry for the contest as well as the opportunity for you to enter a BONUS entry…
For simplicity (and so that you can tweet multiple times) you can use this form for each bonus entry, however, if this is an additional entry, please check the box saying this an additional entry so we know you have already completed your mandatory entry requirement

For your MANDATORY ENTRY:

Tweet the following on TwitterNew Starbucks Giveaway! We need ANSRs for Kids (Ambulances Need Safety Regulations) Every child’s life matters! http://ow.ly/hutQ Plz RT!

For your BONUS ENTRIES:

  1. Retweet the following “New Starbucks Giveaway! We need ANSRs for Kids (Ambulances Need Safety Regulations) Every child’s life matters! http://ow.ly/hutQ Plz RT!” (you may tweet once daily = 1 entry)
  2. Click on the “Share This” at the bottom of this post & submit this to your favorite social network (= 1 entry)
  3. Join our community (note: An email will be sent asking you to verify your membership – you must login to your email & verify membership ) https://pediatricsafety.net/wp-login.php?action=register ( = 2 entries)
  4. Blog about this giveaway and link to this post http://ow.ly/hutQ (=2 entries)
  5. Join the cause on Facebook and send invites to your friends – help us spread the word that things have got to change http://apps.facebook.com/causes/299331?m=3f1cca43 (=3 entries)
  6. Sign the petition – help us tell Congress that we need ANSR’s for Kids http://www.rallycongress.com/pediatric-safety/2168/ansr-kids-ambulances-need-safety-regulations/ (=3 entries)

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 2 WINNERSStarbucks results-2 7-31-09Starbucks results 7-31-09

Shirley Brondum – #51 – with a Mandatory Tweet

Carol Dziuba #33 – with an Additional Entry – Signed the Petition (You’ve signed! Next, send your comments as a letter to your elected officials. entry 1)

Contest Rules:

Giveaway is open to USA and Canada readers only. Giveaway starts Friday July 17, 2009 and ends at noon EST Friday July 31, 2009. Please fill out a separate form for the mandatory entry and each bonus entry so we can make sure each entry gets counted. (…that means if you completed a bonus that has 3 entries, please submit 3 forms). Please make sure each form has your name and a valid email address. You will have 48 hours to email me if you win. Winner chosen using random.org. Good Luck to all entrants!