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Bryan firefighters certified in child passenger safety
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Rebecca Hurst of the Chatham County Health Department makes a point as she checks the child seat in Bruce Erickson's car. Hurst was one of 14 people to take a course in Richmond Hill to be certified as a child passenger safety technician. - photo by Photo by Paul Floecker

Bruce Erickson stopped by the Richmond Hill Fire Department station on Ford Avenue Friday for a check of his car’s child safety seat because, in his words, “you can never be too careful.”

Turns out, he was being overly cautious with the car seat for his 4-month-old son, Kaden.

“I had too many safety precautions in there,” Erickson said. “You either use the harnesses or the seat belt – you don’t need both.”

The car seat inspections were conducted by public safety and health care workers to complete a week-long class in Richmond Hill to earn their certification as child passenger safety technicians. The course is conducted around the state by the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Two Bryan County firefighters – Amy Mason and Ian Zieba – took the child passenger safety course. Mason has four children, including one still young enough to require a car seat.

“I’ve always wanted to do this class,” said Mason, who also is an emergency medical technician. “Before I even worked EMS, I’ve always been a fanatic about car seats and safety.”

By completing the course, Mason and Zieba joined Battalion Chief Matt Schultz as certified child passenger safety technicians for Bryan County Emergency Services. Schultz plans for a couple more Bryan County firefighters or EMTs to take the course next year, and then continue to add each year to BCES’ number of certified techs on each end of the county.

“It’s one more way for us to do public outreach and help the community we serve,” Schultz said.

While a week might seem like a long course for child passenger safety, Zieba pointed out it covered much more than just proper car seat installation. Topics included the different types of child restraints, securing children in car seats, injury prevention, federal safety standards, crash dynamics and coordinating a child safety seat check event.

“Very surprising how much you need to know, how involved it is,” Zieba said. ”(People think) you just put your car seat in, make sure it’s snug, put the baby in, make sure the baby is snug – but there’s a lot more to it.”

Along with the two Bryan County firefighters, members of the Hinesville Fire Department, Waynesville Fire Department and Chatham County Health Department took the class in Richmond Hill. They too will add to the number of certified child passenger safety technicians in their respective departments.

“Just being that resource for the community, knowing that a technician is there on duty, parents and caregivers can come in and ask questions,” said Reshma Punjani, program specialist with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.

“You never know how many lives you’re saving with that.”

It’s not just the class participants who will be able to pass along information, though. So will the parents who stopped by Friday to have their child seats checked.

“Now I can take this back to my wife and let her know what I learned,” Erickson said.

For more information about having a child safety seat inspected, call Bryan County Emergency Services at 858-2799.

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