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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Taking Care of the Children

So what do you carry on the Big Red Truck to take care of the kids?

No, I'm not talking about peds and infant-sized airway stuff, small cuffs, or the somewhat horrifying peds BVM and AED pads... I get a small shudder from the thought of the next time I will need any of that stuff. Oh, how those calls just... suck. Having children of your own... well, if you have kids, you know, I don't have to go there.

But that's not what I am asking. What do you have to take care of the kids when they're not the primary reason you're there?

One of the Captains established the 'Kid Kit' several years ago, and it is checked at the beginning of every shift along with everything else on the dailies. The kit includes the kind of stuff many of us are giving out right now during Fire Prevention Week in the states: coloring books, pencils or crayons, stickers, those flimsy fire helmets, and other sundry prizes. Of course we also carry at least one 'Trauma Teddy' on each piece, but that isn't always the thing you need.

We use it fairly often, but one specific episode still stands out to me. We arrived to the home of a female having a nondescript but legitimate medical emergency. There were three small children present and no other caretaker was available. Arriving 2nd due, my personal presence was not really needed. I saw that there are three very worried children observing us, clearly aware that Mommy is quite sick.

Thank you, Captain Bill, for the Kid Kit. I returned with it and showed Mommy what I had in front of the little ones, so they saw that Mommy approved, and then shepherded them all to the kitchen table. Soon all were distracted by coloring books and stickers. A trauma teddy works to comfort, sometimes, but it doesn't distract like a coloring contest with your siblings.

By the time we moved Mommy to the cot and headed to the door, Mommy had made it clear to the kids that a couple of us would be watching them for a bit, something we were happy to do until child services or PD could make the scene. I told the kids, truthfully, that Mommy was going to be OK and probably back home soon. Those kids were so relaxed that they stayed in their seats and waved Mommy goodbye as she was wheeled out.

The popular Trauma Teddy idea is a nice start, but its applications are limited. It doesn't take much to expand that kit a little bit, and the returns are worth it. Happy parents tend to then think highly of us, and are more likely to vote 'yes' for much-needed funding measures, and are more likely to tell their friends to support us as well. We all know how fast bad PR spreads, but good PR makes the rounds, too. The good PR earned with your Kid Kit is worth exponentially more than the monetary cost invested to put it together.

My suggestions for your Kid Kit inventory:
* Coloring Books
* Crayons
* Gimmick Pencils (three-color or bending, etc)
* Erasers
* Rulers (a universal toy!)
* Mini flashlights
* Small wind-up toys
* Play stickers
* Badge stickers
* 911 stickers
* Play fire helmets

Obviously some of these things don't go to the choking-hazard set, but you knew that already.

Give it a try. I bet many of you, especially the fire guys, already have a lot of these things in a supply closet at the station. Throw some of this stuff into a bag and put a rudimentary Kid Kit in service today, and see where it goes from there.


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