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Terri Jones, childbirth educator and coordinator of the IU Health Arnett Hospital Permanent Fitting Station, was recently presented with an award from the Automotive Safety Program for Outstanding Dedication in Forwarding the Issues of Child Safety.
Safe Kids Indiana and the Automotive Safety Program host the annual Child Safety Advocate Awards to honor people who exhibit true dedication to the safety and well-being of children in their communities. This annual celebration has taken place since 1997 and recognizes organizations and individuals who demonstrate extraordinary efforts in preventing injury and death among children in Indiana.
IU Health Arnett has the most successful car seat program in the state of Indiana, and it is all due to Jones’ passion and hard work. Since opening May 1, 2009, IU Health Arnett Hospital’s Permanent Fitting Station has trained a staff of 50 Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians> eleven are currently on staff. The department has provided 4,251 new seats to families in need. Car seats for families in need are provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Department, Buckle Up for Life and the IU Health Arnett Foundation. The department has completed 13,285 car seat checks - a free service offered to patients and community members to safeguard the proper installation of car seats.
“Jones’ passion comes for her desire for automobile safety in general. She lost a teenage son in a car accident many years ago,” shared Selina McNulty, manager of labor and delivery, mother baby at IU Health Arnett Hospital. “She has also been made aware of families that she, or one of our techs, has checked a car seat for or provided a replacement car seat, that later ended up in a car accident with the baby in the car, and being in a safe correctly installed seat, saved the babies life. We hate to hear that babies have been in car accidents but knowing without a doubt that the work she does makes a difference, is very inspiring and spurs her to keep going.”
Despite a pandemic and the order to work from home, Jones’ passion did not stop. She was still making sure people received car seats, meeting them in places that were convenient for them – all so their kids were safe. “During 2020 we did 871 car seat installation checks and distributed 236 new seats to children in need.” shared Jones. “We were covering Carroll, Cass and White county because the health departments stopped doing appointments. I met parents at Walmart, Payless on the west side, at a gas station in Delphi and went to several homes to deliver seats in Delphi, Flora, Logansport, Monticello and Lafayette. People have been so appreciative of the service.”
Jones had to take a month off when she was hospitalized with COVID over the holidays. But she has bounced back and continues to work towards keeping kids safe despite the fact that she could retire. “I missed it so much,” explains Jones. “I am anxious to find a new normal in 2021.”
Upon receiving her award, Jones pointed out that she does not do this alone. She is helped by the 11 technicians in mother baby, NICU and emergency room. “They take care of the newborns in the hospital, which frees me up to do more in the community with car seat checks and distribution,” shared Jones. “The car seat program cannot exist without management’s support. Plus, materials management for stocking, unboxing and delivering all those car seats.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that car crashes are a leading cause of death for children one to 13 years old in the United States. The best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right seat, at the right time and use it the right way.
With hundreds of car seat types and models available to consumers, how do you know which one is right for your child? “In your child’s lifetime, your child will sit several ways and, in several seats, to ride in the safest way possible while in your vehicle. The right car seat or booster fits your child and your car and is one you will use correctly every time you travel. Not only will your child ride as safely as possible, but you will also be establishing the foundation for a lifelong habit of seat belt use every time your child travels,” advises Jones.
Statistics show that at least four out of five car seats are used incorrectly. Parents that would like to ensure that their child’s car seat is installed properly, may schedule a car seat fitting appointment year-round through IU Health Arnett Hospital’s Permanent Fitting Station. A Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) will check the car seat installation free-of-charge. Parents and caregivers can call IU Health Arnett Childbirth Education department at 765.838.4670 to schedule an appointment.