GLEN BURNIE, MD (August 15, 2022) – The safe transport of children – at all times and in all vehicles – is a priority for the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). When adults need ambulance transport, but the child passengers do not, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) clinicians may find properly buckling up a healthy child to be a challenge within the same ambulance.
With the help of a grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office, MIEMSS’ Emergency Medical Services for Children Department recently completed a pilot program to address this problem and is hoping to expand it to other agencies in the future.
During the pilot program, four EMS agencies were trained to properly install and use child safety seats and were provided with a total of 16 Graco All-In-One Slim Fit car seats. These seats are designed to accommodate babies from birth through booster seat-aged children.
According to Maryland’s Child Passenger Safety Laws, every child under age 8 must ride in an appropriate child restraint unless the child is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller. Often, EMS and law enforcement agencies do not have the range of seats to accommodate the different child sizes and ages in vehicles other than an ambulance.
“We are always looking to partner with other state agencies to help solve the problems our EMS and law enforcement agencies are facing – especially when it involves transporting children,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We encourage everyone to buckle up – every seat, every time – and now we can ensure children are properly secured when being transported in an emergency.”
As part of the pilot program in 2022, MIEMSS provided training and donated car seats to Allegany County Emergency Medical Services, Calvert County Division of Emergency Services, Ocean City Fire Company, and Washington County Division of Emergency Services. In 2020 and 2021, in partnership with MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office, MIEMSS, and the Maryland Department of Health’s Kids in Safety Seats (KISS) initiative, nearly 100 law enforcement agencies received child safety seats to help with transporting children in patrol vehicles.
“Maryland EMS for Children has a long history of bringing child passenger safety to the local, county, and state agencies involved in EMS, Fire & Rescue,” said Cynthia Wright-Johnson, MSN RN, Director of EMS for Children at MIEMSS. “In the training provided with this pilot project, the philosophy of “good, better, best” is emphasized to help EMS Clinicians transport children in the safest way possible. The Pediatric EMS Champions in the four counties participating in 2022 will provide ongoing feedback and help to expand the program to other communities in Maryland.”
Every Child Deserves the Right Seat
While the MIEMSS pilot program directly funds EMS supplies and training, it also reinforces the message that all Marylanders should check their child safety seats often to ensure children are in the correct – and properly installed – car seat for their height and weight.
Maryland KISS offers FREE virtual and in-person car seat installation checks that help parents and guardians ensure their child safety seat is correctly installed. A personal car seat check is best, but here are some important safety tips for car seat use:
- Choose the right seat based on your child’s height and weight.
- Adjust the straps to fit your child according to the car seat’s manual.
- Snug up the harness straps and buckle. The chest clip should be level with the armpit.
- Secure the car seat to the vehicle with the seat belt or lower anchors. Tighten to no more than 1 inch of movement of the seat.
- Remove bulky clothing from children before securing them in the car seat.
MDOT MVA does not endorse any product but encourages parents to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals while installing car seats.? Additional information on proper car seats can be found at ZeroDeathsMD.gov/CarSeats.