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Proper safety seat installation a life saver

March 27, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA.

The young patient was far better off than many of the cases that Susan Rzucidlo, a pediatric trauma clinical nurse specialist at Hershey Medical Center, would encounter in her career.

However, what made the baby's story memorable were the child's minor scratches.

"The crash was so bad the entire vehicle seat came out," Rzucidlo said.

Police found the child still secured, upside down, in a safety seat 100 feet from the vehicle.

Rzucidlo, the coordinator for the Dauphin County Coalition of Safe Kids Worldwide, is happy when vehicular accident stories end that way, so she was thrilled when two volunteers from Waynesboro completed training to properly check child safety seats in the community.

With certifications through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bill Hedrick and Kim Green are offering their services to businesses and families. They aren't supposed to install the safety seats, but rather teach parents how to do it properly.

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Green, of the Waynesboro Police Department, and Hedrick, of the Waynesboro Fire Department, attended four full days of classes in Camp Hill, Pa., and scored better than the 80th percentile on the accompanying exam.

Green realized through the classes that her own children's safety seats were never installed correctly.

Now, the education continues.

"I learned something," Krista Carbaugh said Wednesday after Hedrick and Green attached a locking clip to the seat used by Carbaugh's 2-year-old son, Blake.

Hedrick said the fire department is constantly receiving calls from people looking to have their safety seats checked to ensure they are secured in vehicles correctly.

However, he wasn't sure where to direct them and wasn't aware of anyone in Waynesboro with a valid two-year certification to check the seats.

"There was a need, and nobody else was jumping up," Hedrick said.

The classes were taught by a retired Pennsylvania State Police trooper, an active trooper, a representative of Safe Kids Worldwide and a nurse with Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center.

A number of seats and dolls were used in demonstrations accompanying PowerPoint presentations. The students also practiced securing safety seats in their own vehicles.

The safety seat "is only supposed to move an inch back and forth," Green said.

"We find that 90 percent of the seats have some misuse," Rzucidlo said.

The instructors said children from birth to 4 years old are supposed to be secured in a safety seat while in a vehicle. Children 4 to 8 years old are supposed to be in a booster seat, according to Green.

No one younger than 13 should be in the front seat, she said.

Hedrick and Green won't make recommendations on specific brands of safety seats, but they said the safety seat should fit the vehicle, fit the child and be "one that you will use correctly every time."

A properly installed safety seat is 71 percent effective in reducing death among infants during an accident, according to literature the pair received in class.

The safety seat also reduces the need for hospitalization by 69 percent, the documents said.

"You're only supposed to use a seat for six years, and if it's been in a major accident, it's supposed to be replaced," Green said.

Green and Hedrick are coordinating their schedules to best meet requests for safety seat checks. They also plan to check safety seats during various community events and ask that people provide them with the manual for both the vehicle and safety seat.

The police department is looking to send an officer to training soon, so a third person in Waynesboro obtains active certification.

"The parents really need to ask that the person is really certified," Rzucidlo said.

To schedule a safety seat check, call Green at 717-762-2132 or Hedrick at 717-762-2616. To find a technician in another community, visit www.safekids.org/certification.




Buckle up



  • Children from birth to 4 years old are supposed to be secured in a safety seat while in a vehicle.


  • Children 4 to 8 years old are supposed to be in a booster seat.


  • No one younger than 13 should be in the front seat.
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