Prop­erly in­stalled car seat can save lives


On Fe­bru­ary 12, 2006 Gabrielle Pat­ten saved her grand­son’s life. She only re­mem­bers the date be­cause it was her birth­day.

Can­non Pat­ten was six months old when the car he was in with his par­ents rolled three times.

Can­non was left com­pletely un­marked be­cause of his car seat - which Gabrielle in­stalled.

‘‘He didn’t have a mark on him, his mum had to go to hospi­tal but he didn’t. What I did saved my grand­son’s life.’’

Pat­ten worked as a car seat tech­ni­cian for child care provider Plun­ket for 34 years be­fore they stopped of­fer­ing the ser­vice.

She has now part­nered with Alisha Stone, a Safe Com­mu­nity pro­gramme man­ager at New Ply­mouth In­jury Safe, to fill the gap left in the com­mu­nity and con­tin­ues to fit child seats for fam­i­lies.

‘‘We just saw a need that there were peo­ple with in­cor­rect us­age and peo­ple needed seats,’’ Pat­ten said.

‘‘We saw a need to sup­port fam­i­lies and whanau fit­ting their car seats. I’m a mum with two kids so I know they’re not the eas­i­est things to in­stall,’’ Stone added.

The pair ac­cessed fund­ing through Road­safe Taranaki and now go around the re­gion every month mak­ing sure fam­i­lies have the op­por­tu­nity to have their car seats in­stalled safely and cor­rectly free of charge.

‘‘A lot know it’s wrong so come and get help but the scary thing is a lot don’t know it’s wrong and they don’t get help,’’ Pat­ten said.

Pat­ten and Stone had been do­ing check points with the po­lice, stop­ping fam­i­lies and check­ing their car seats as an aware­ness cam­paign.

‘‘So far less than half, so 47 per cent, were fine, 10 per cent were il­le­gal, and the re­main­ing 43 per cent needed some­thing done to make them safer. They were legal but they needed ad­just­ments,’’ Stone said.

Pat­ten said the most com­mon thing she sees wrong with car seats is loose har­nesses.

‘‘They wouldn’t save any­thing. The child could just shoot out if it’s a loose har­ness.’’

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