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Pa. teens learn childcare basics in class

February 10, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The image of the gum-chewing babysitter who ties up the phone line, raids the refrigerator and ignores the household's rules is about to change.

Mercersburg Police and Volunteer Fire Departments are sponsoring the borough's first babysitting class next month.

The class is designed to teach beginning and veteran babysitters, from ages 13 and up, how to handle a variety of emergency situations.

"Hopefully anyone who goes through this course will have access to more babysitting jobs and develop the training they'll need in case something happens," said Mercersburg Police Officer William Sheppard.

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Sheppard came up with the idea with Officer Shawn Grove.

The class will include instruction on how to handle nuisance telephone calls, what to do in case of a burglary at the home, and steps to take in case of a lost or missing child.

Firefighters will teach the class what to do in the event of a fire and give a lesson on how to use a fire extinguisher.

Babysitters will also have the opportunity to become CPR-certified during the class and receive instruction on choking. There will also be a discussion on how to use 911.

"They need to know the name, correct address, what type of emergency it is and the home's phone number," Sheppard said. "Most importantly they need to know not to hang up - to remain on the line."

After successfully finishing the course, the newly trained babysitters will receive a certificate of completion, provided by the Tuscarora Area Jaycees, which they can then show to prospective employers.

"This is also designed to put parents at ease," Sheppard said, who admitted he used to worry when he left his daughter in the care of a babysitter.

"Here's the way I look at it. If you have small children and you have the option of choosing one of two babysitters, both with good credibility, if one went through the course and the other didn't, who would you choose?" said Mercersburg Police Chief Larry Thomas.

Thomas said he doesn't know of any class in the area like it.

The course is free and there is a limit of 20 people.

Sheppard said plans are to hold as many as possible throughout the year.

The first class is set for March 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the fire house on 132 N. Main St.

Anyone interested can sign up for the course at Mercersburg Police Headquarters at 113 S. Main St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

A parent's signature is required for anyone under 18.

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