THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Transcripts: 546.4 and 546.5

Week: 546.4 Guest: Heather Paul, Executive Director, SafeKids Campaign Topic: Preventing Childhood Trauma, Part One of Two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: We're with Heather Paul, Executive Director of the National SafeKids Campaign, based in Washington D.C. Tell us about your organization, what's your mission?

PAUL: Well, unintentional injury, as you might know Steve, is the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 14 and under, and it has been for many years. Dr. Marty Eichelberger, who was and is President and head of trauma services at Children's National Medical Center here in Washington, D.C., was very perplexed that he saw, on the front line - in emergency rooms every day - deaths that just didn't have to happen, and he thought there should be a national campaign...and here we are ten years later with 210 coalitions around the country, overseeing this great army of volunteers and professionals: firefighters, police, emergency nurses, and other emergency personnel...basically working on a whole range of unintentional injury areas. And helping parents and kids to stay safe.

NEMA: In many different areas of trauma, your network has helped reduce the number of deaths significantly...as your campaign is adopted in communities throughout the country...let's take the major cause of trauma first....

PAUL: The number one killer and disabler of children is really motor vehicles, and we know, one third of American children are not buckled up on any given car trip. So, first and foremost, we say to parents and care givers, "make sure in the first year of life, that he or she is in a rear-facing infant seat that's in the middle of the back seat...never, never up front...and now we have an extra warning that goes with passenger side air bags: That they are lethal, or can be lethal when they deploy with a rear facing infant. 200 miles an hour, with two thousand pounds of pressure, and it could really snap the neck of a small child.

NEMA: And I know that you've told us in your materials that kids that are between the weight of 40 and 60 pounds should still be in a booster seat, to get them up high enough in order for them to use the adult restraints, seat belts, shoulder belts, more efficiently. you've also put out great information concerning the wearing of bicycle helmets...recommended for kids of all ages, to prevent or reduce head injuries by 85% - that's incredible. Also, smoke detectors in homes and , of course....you have something else in mind ...a new danger...or not new...but a companion to the smoke detector in the home....

PAUL: We're also recommending carbon monoxide detectors, because especially with the winter months coming on, over exposure to carbon monoxide is a serious risk. So, there should be at least one in the sleeping area of any home.

NEMA: And you also talk about the dangers of burns...for kids, a scald burn one of the most painful injuries they can have...

PAUL: ...there's nothing worse, as any emergency nurse would tell you, the suffering and tragedy of seeing kids come in with major scald burns that just didn't have to happen. We ask families and owners and managers of apartment buildings to make sure that hot water heaters are set at 120 degrees to avoid a major scald burn that can happen in just seconds. ...so there are lots of tips that parents can take and keep their kids safe.

NEMA: There are things a parent can get: a good car seat, good reflective material for bike safety...but it's as much a matter of spending a little more time...to explain dangers, and to supervise more closely. Next time, Heather Paul of the National SafeKids Campaign talks with us about the characteristics of families and situations that add up to danger for our children. I'm Steve Girard.

Transcripts:

Week: 546.5 Guest: Heather Paul, Executive Director, SafeKids Campaign Topic: Situations that can mean danger for kids, Part Two of Two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: We've been talking with Heather Paul of the National SafeKids Campaign about the things we can do to prevent traumatic injury for our children. Heather, we had some tips...now let's talk about the situations where kids will find danger, and at the top of the list is that most serious injuries occur when a kid under 14 is not supervised...

PAUL: The smaller the child, the more constant supervision is absolutely essential...for instance, we've all heard the tragedies of children drowning in bathtubs when a mom or a sibling went to get the phone, to answer a doorbell...and a child can drown in an inch of water, and that's a horrible thing, for instance, when a toddler or infant is left in one of those baby seats, which we don't recommend for tubs at all..and there's sort of an illusion that they're safe by themselves in that seat. Well, that seat can topple over and a drowning can happen very quickly. So, constant supervision is really important.

NEMA: Certain times of day can prove dangerous...

PAUL: We know that when kids are on bikes, that time after school...around dusk. It's a very dangerous time...kids cannot be seen easily...and that's why we absolutely recommend retro-reflective material, on the bike helmet, on the clothing, on the bike...so that drivers can see kids when they're on the road. And so, that time between light and dark is very, very important.

NEMA: It makes sense... but I never thought about the dangers of rural life being greater than in suburbia...

PAUL: I think that's one of the myths that parents should be disabused of ...that somehow if they're in a pristine, idyllic, rural environment, that there's no chance of injury, and that's just not true. We know for instance, that head injuries happen on rural roads the same way they do on urban ones...and so all kids should really wear bike helmets. We know that certain farm machinery can be very, very dangerous for kids in rural areas unless they're taking the proper precautions. Lawn mowers, in urban or rural areas, can be very dangerous for children not wearing the right foot gear, and also the wrong age....we don't recommend children under the age of 14 using a lawn mower alone at all.

NEMA: What's new at the National SafeKids Campaign right now?

PAUL: Right now, we're working with General Motors, which is very exciting, and our goal is to make sure that General Motors dealerships, at least the beginning, are armed with really good information to help parents know what kind of safety seats to use and how to use them. Which is very exciting. We're also going to be providing more materials to pediatricians, to Head Start centers, and public health clinics...to spread the word...you know, most parents really want to do the best by their kids...see, when we're talking about unintentional injuries, the ones that can happen in the blink of an eye, and with a little more vigilance, just don't have to bring on the tragedies they are now.

NEMA: One of your commercials really hits home with trying to keep parents vigilant...

PAUL: The theme of it is: If Only.... If only I hadn't answered that phone. If only I'd looked more carefully at the hot grease that was left on the stove. I mean parents have enough to feel responsible for in this modern age, without the guilt brought on by an unintentional injury.

NEMA: Our thanks to Heather Paul, the Executive Director of the National SafeKids Campaign. If you'd like to play a role, give the campaign headquarters in Washington a call. Or look them up locally, and find out what you can do in your hometown. I'm Steve Girard.