Teaching comfort before care

Times-Herald Staff
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A Moose Jaw paramedic is using Teddy Bears to teach kids about emergency care.

Eric Li, a child from the Southwest Daycare, sees what it's like to have his eyes checked by a paramedic Carissa Knull. Li was in the ambulance because of the Teddy Bear Clinics that happened at four daycares across Moose Jaw on Thursday.

Jack Rennie, an advanced care paramedic for the Five Hills Health Region led a team of three paramedics and Terry the Traumasaurus —an EMS Mascot — in four Teddy Bear Clinics on Thursday at daycares across the city. 

"The Teddy Bear Clinics are to make the kids more comfortable with what we might do in the back of an ambulance," said Rennie at the YMCA Explore N' Learn Day Care.

The paramedics brough the children in to the ambulance and used the teddy bears as mannequins to show the children how to put a band-aid on and how to use a stethoscope to listen to breathing and to a heart beat.  

"It makes it relatable," said Rennie. "It's something that is theirs, that they can see, that is not exactly themselves. When they get in that situation they may be a bit more comfortable."

This is the first year the EMS has done the hands-on clinic and was the brainchild of Rennie, who began giving teddy bears to children that were picked up in the ambulance.

"It's always a scary situation, so I'll actually hook the equipment up to the teddy bear prior to putting it on them," he said. "I'll pretend to listen to the lunges before them and it seems to kind of build some rapport. I thought if we do this for a big group of kids maybe it will spread the word that it's not so scary."

Hannah Davidson, an early childcare educator at YMCA Explore N' Learn saw the interaction the pre-school children had with the paramedics and said she thinks it's a great workshop.

"It's good because it gives them a hands on way to learn about health and wellness," Davidson said. "I think it creates awareness to what EMS is. In the community they know to recognize the truck, the ambulance, to know what the uniform means and to know they are helpful."

Rennie told the Times-Herald that children aren't the only ones that don't entirely understand the impact of paramedics and EMS. He said paramedics bridge the gap between the emergency room and the community and that EMS is a big part of the health care circle.

"It's important just to realize we are no longer just ambulance drivers," Rennie said. "It seems like there is this longterm stigma behind just saying we throw them in the back of the ambulance  and we are basically a transport mechanism."

Rennie explained that paramedics compile medical information, talk to family members and give a snap shot of what is going on before they are transfered to the hospital.

The Teddy Bear Clinics stopped at the YMCA Explore N' Learn, SouthWest Daycare Centre, YMCA Play and Learn and the Building Blocks Daycare Centre.

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: EMS, YMCA, Times-Herald

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