KFD Members Training to Improve Car Seat Safety

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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KFD Members Training to Improve Car Seat Safety

Posted: 11/29/2006
The Knoxville Fire Department is joining the effort to improve car seat safety for area infants and children.

Seven firefighters joined eight Knoxville Police Department employees and a nurse from East Tennessee Children's Hospital on Tuesday to begin a four-day child passenger safety-training program being offered by the Safe Kids Coalition of the Greater Knox Area.

The course is being conducted at the Knox County Health Department and will run through Friday.

In addition to passing a written test the members of the group will have to demonstrate their skills at a child safety seat checkpoint Saturday, Dec. 2, at Beaty Chevrolet from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The class will begin there on Saturday at 8 a.m.

At the conclusion of the course the group will be certified as child passenger safety technicians who can provide safety education to parents and other caregivers as well as assisting them in correctly installing and using child restraint systems and safety belts.

The Knoxville Fire Department is partnering with the Safe Kids Coalition and will begin offering free regular child safety seat checkpoints at a fire station or stations as part of its service to citizens.

The Knoxville Police Department already partners with Safe Kids by offering a free checkpoint each month and helps out with another one.

Capt. Darrell Whitaker said that people sometimes stop at stations asking for help in determining whether the devices are properly installed.

But he said the department didn't have certified technicians to assist them.

Now, following the training, the fire department will be able to offer that service to citizens in a manner that is convenient to them.

Whitaker said the KFD hasn't worked out the details yet on whether it will offer its regular checkpoints at one station or move it to different stations around the city.

The Knoxville Police Department also sponsors a free checkpoint once a month at Rusty Wallace Honda and has been a longtime partner with the Safe Kids Coalition in providing car seat checkpoints to the Knoxville community.

"We typically check anywhere from 30 to 45 car seats at one of those checkpoints," said Sgt. Mike McCarter, with the Knoxville Police Department.

McCarter said that the seven KPD civilian employees and one officer are taking the course and that KPD wants to increase its pool of certified child passenger safety technicians and instructors.

Rachel Frazier, coordinator of the Safe Kids Coalition of the Greater Knox Area, said research nationally indicates that about 80 percent of car seats are incorrectly installed.

"That pretty much rings true here for as long as we've been checking car seats," she said.
She said child passenger safety has always been a top priority for Safe Kids and that motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children nationwide.

The Safe Kids Coalition sponsors a Child Safety Checkpoint at Beaty Chevrolet on Parkside Drive the first Saturday of each month and the KPD sponsors one at Rusty Wallace Honda on Callahan Drive on the second Saturday of each month.

Both checkpoints take place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Typically members of Safe Kids and KPD personnel work both events as well as individuals from other organizations like the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Frazier said that the Safe Kids Coalition of the Greater Knox Area is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, the national organization, and is providing a grant for the training made possible by Safe Kids national sponsor GM/Chevrolet.

The Tennessee Child Passenger Safety Center, which is funded by the Governor's Highway Safety Office, is also providing financial support for the course.