Fire safety, escape plans highlighted on EMS for Children Day
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.