Fire safety, es­cape plans high­lighted on EMS for Chil­dren Day

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MATTHEW KUBISIAK mku­bisiak@somd­

Base­ball fans ar­riv­ing for the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs game Fri­day evening may have no­ticed an am­bu­lance in front of Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium. Mul­ti­ple emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cians were wrap­ping wounds, ap­ply­ing ban­dages and pro­vid­ing first re­sponse care.

The pa­tients, thank­fully, were not hu­mans, but adorable Teddy bears and other stuffed an­i­mals brought by chil­dren to re­ceive re­pairs. Bears, tigers and Mickey Mouse

plush toys that had seen bet­ter days were lov­ingly su­tured up and handed back to the chil­dren.

This Teddy bear clinic was set up as part of Na­tional EMS for Chil­dren Day, an an­nual event where ac­tiv­i­ties are or­ga­nized around the coun­try to pro­mote chil­dren’s safety and raise aware­ness of the im­por­tance of pe­di­atric emer­gency ser­vices.

“There’s a lot of things that hap­pen to chil­dren that are pre­ventable,” Chief of Charles County EMS John Filer said. “That’s the fo­cus of EMS for Chil­dren.”

Ac­cord­ing to Filer, this year’s safety mes­sage is for chil­dren to have an home es­cape plan in case of a fire or other emer­gency. Pre­vi­ous years’ themes in­cluded wear­ing bike hel­mets and safe pedes­trian cross­ings.

As part of 2017’s es­cape plan mes­sage, the Ridge Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment brought its fire safety trailer up from lower St. Mary’s County to the sta­dium park­ing lot where at­ten­dees could prac­tice in a fire safety sim­u­la­tion be­fore the game.

Ge­orge Franklin, who is in charge of fire preven­tion with the de­part­ment, walked through the trailer show­ing its dif­fer­ent fire safety sim­u­la­tors, such as fake smoke, a smoke alarm and a door that be­comes hot to the touch.

“There should al­ways be two ways out,” Franklin said in the bed­room area of the trailer, ex­plain­ing how in the sim­u­la­tion the ob­vi­ous choice of the front door will be in­ac­ces­si­ble, in­stead leav­ing only the win­dow to climb out.

In the sim­u­la­tion, the smoke alarm goes off while a child is in the bed­room. Taught to crawl on their hands and knees to avoid smoke in­hala­tion, the child is in­structed to crawl to the bed­room door and to feel it first be­fore open­ing it. Since the door is warm to the touch, the child knows there must be fire on the other side block­ing the path to the front door. With that way blocked, the child is shown how to un­lock the bed­room win­dow and climb out to safety.

Franklin says the fire safety trailer is taken to schools and events around South­ern Mary­land. He be­lieves it’s im­por­tant for young chil­dren not just to learn th­ese safety tips for them­selves, but to also re­mind par­ents to get in­volved with a fire es­cape plan for their house.

“List all the rooms, win­dows and doors, places of egress, so they can get out and have a meet­ing place,” Franklin said.

Out­side the trailer, other vol­un­teers with the Ridge fire de­part­ment were help­ing chil­dren with a 911 call sim­u­la­tor, which demon­strated the im­por­tance of kids know­ing how to call for help and mem­o­riz­ing their home ad­dress.

Near the Teddy bear clinic was a CPR man­nequin set up for chil­dren to prac­tice by­stander CPR, which in­volves the com­pres­sion com­po­nent of the tech­nique.

Charles County Safety Of­fi­cer Joane Gul­vas said events like EMS for Chil­dren Day show real re­sults with safety and preven­tion in­struc­tion.

“It’s so im­por­tant to teach them at a young age,” Gul­vas said. “It’s amaz­ing how many kids have al­ready learned to be able to save some­body’s life.”

Charles County EMS Lt. Elizabeth Le­fler said this year was busier than most, pre­dict­ing that all 250 teddy bears stocked for chil­dren who didn’t bring their own stuffed toys would be handed out be­fore the game.

As with Ridge VFD’s fire safety trailer, the safety mes­sage of the Teddy bear clinic is not just for younger at­ten­dees.

“Some­times telling the kids is the best way to help the par­ents out,” Filer said. “What­ever you do af­fects your kids and your kids are go­ing to see that. Be a good leader and your kids will do what you do be­cause you’re their role model.”


Above, set up out­side the en­trance to Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium, Charles County Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices pro­vide care to Teddy bears and stuffed an­i­mals of all kinds dur­ing the Na­tional EMS for Chil­dren Day on June 23. Chil­dren ar­riv­ing at the Blue Crabs game ei­ther had their own toys re­paired or re­ceive a free Teddy bear from Charles County EMS. Be­low left, Gabriel Nik­las, 4, smiles as he shows off his re­paired stuffed bear. The boy watched with cu­rios­ity as paramedics su­tured a tear on the bear and then re­turned it good as new. Be­low right, Callen Thomp­son prac­tices giv­ing by­stander CPR on a manikin with Charles County Safety Of­fi­cer Joane Gul­vas. There are lights on the manikin that in­di­cate whether the proper tech­nique is be­ing used.


Carsen Thomp­son ex­its the Ridge Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment fire safety trailer through the back win­dow dur­ing the EMS for Chil­dren Day event at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium on Fri­day evening. Vol­un­teers in­structed chil­dren how to safely es­cape from a burn­ing struc­ture by crawl­ing low to the ground and know­ing at least two es­cape routes.

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