Brentwood firefighters provide child car seat inspections | | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

According to national statistics, vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in young children age 2-4 years old. The death of a Brentwood firefighter’s two young cousins in a 2017 Ohio car wreck was the inspiration for a member of the Brentwood Fire Department to request a child car seat installation program be developed.

“We started the child car seat program because of [my cousins],” said BFD engineer/paramedic May Massie.

Engineer/AEMT Kyle Shank, who has young children, joined Massie when their battalion chief enrolled them in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration four-day Child Safety Seat Tech Class. After completing the course certified in NHTSA standards to inspect and install child car seats, they began a valuable service to the community conducting child passenger safety education classes for expectant parents during area hospital parenting classes and perform child car seat inspections.

Massie and Shank also make regular visits to childcare centers and preschools in the Brentwood area to teach and assist expectant parents, grandparents and care-givers with the proper installation of their child car seat or child restraint system using NHTSA child passenger safety guidelines and car seat manual instructions. Their goal is to ensure all child car seats have been installed correctly and parents and care-givers know how to properly use them.

According to a 2009-2010 national study by the National Safe Kids Campaign, more than 70% of 17,500 car seats inspected nationwide were installed incorrectly.

“We usually see new parents and grandparents, but even seasoned parents install them incorrectly,” Shank said.

“It’s because car seats are so complicated to install,” Massie added

To date, close to 95% of the child car seats BFD inspectors have checked were improperly installed. The number was a surprise, but it motivated Massie and Shank to beef-up their mission to protect young children.

“I would never have thought it would be that high,” Massie said. “[Parents] just don’t know.”

The underlining theme of child car seat inspections is similar to fire inspections —

it’s prevention, Shank said. The fire department is quick to respond to a fire, but if one can be avoided, it can save lives, property and anguish.

“If we can avoid something from happening and save kids’ lives, that’s what we want,” Shank said. “[A car seat] is not just a place to put a kid. We want kids to be safe.”

YouTube has a lot of information on installing a car seat, but it’s not always the correct information, Shank added. Most hospitals, police departments and fire departments have someone certified to install car seats, but Massie and Shank take the service to the parents when they show up at preschools and child care centers.

“The goal of every installation is not to put in, it’s to have the care-giver, with the professional, put it in the vehicle using the vehicle manual and car seat manual,” Massie said.

According to the duo, car seats have expiration dates. Belts degrade after a while, metal pieces get worn and plastic becomes brittle.

“If the vehicle with a car seat has been in an accident, you shouldn’t use that car seat again,” Shank said. “We try to educate parents on their car seats.”

Both firefighters continue to educate themselves about child car seats as manufacturers improve them and change the styles — then pass that information on to parents.

“We have to install many different seats in many different vehicles.” Massie said. “As part of the program we receive notifications of changes [in car seats and laws]. For me, this has been eye opening. I like to believe if I was [in Ohio], my cousins would be here today.”

Most accidents are preventable, she added.

Massie and Shank attend regular events at preschools to catch vehicles with child car seats that haven’t been checked, newly purchased vehicles or answer questions regarding child car seats.

“[Parents] don’t know what they don’t know,” she said, “I’d like to do a child car seat campaign.”

Before joining the Brentwood Fire Department in 2014, Shank was a firefighter in Florida. He began his career in 2009 when he entered the Florida State Fire Academy.

“I wanted to do something fun; I didn’t want to get behind a desk,” he said.

In 2013 his wife accepted a job in Nashville. Shank applied to the Brentwood Fire Department and was hired a year later. Since Florida fire training is nationally certified, there’s a reciprocity agreement with Tennessee. Shank wasn’t required to go through the Tennessee Fire Academy, but as a Basic EMT, he decided to “upgrade” his license to Advanced EMT prior to being hired. Brentwood started him as a firefighter to ensure he was proficient. Shank is now an Engineer.

Massie, an Ohio native, was in college working on a physical therapy degree, but couldn’t quite settle on what she really wanted to do. Then, in 2017 the accident happened and “in that moment, I knew — I wanted to be a paramedic,” she said. She enrolled in EMT school, then went to the Ohio State Fire Academy and added more classes to become a paramedic.

“I was tired of the environment in Ohio and was looking to leave,” she said.

There was an opening in Brentwood, and since she wanted to go to Tennessee, “it was the perfect opportunity,” she said.

It took months of tests, interviews and waiting before she got the call. Massie had three months to move and find a place to live. Ohio’s fire service is also nationally certified, so she skipped the fire academy, but she did have a one-year probation.

Firefighters have a plethora of jobs, including building inspections; painting, flushing and testing the flow of fire hydrants, training for annual physical agility tests, taking or instructing classes and waiting for the next call.

All Brentwood fire stations now have someone on staff certified to inspect child car seats, but by appointment only, and they request the child who will be using the seat is present.

“Because we wear so many hats, we just request people call ahead to make sure we’re available,” Shank said. “You don’t have to live in Brentwood to get help setting up your car seat.”

The number to call to make an appointment for a car seat inspection is 615-371-0170.


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