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Car Seat Program

For information on our Car Seat program, please contact Lt. Robert Dobbert at
(413) 664-6680 ext.18

Also you may visit the State website at


North Adams Ambulance Wins Grant For Child Safety Seats

By Lyndsay DeBord
Special to iBerkshires
11:46PM / Sunday, September 21, 2008

NORTH ADAMS - The North Adams Ambulance Service, together with the North Adams Fire Department, has received a $10,000 grant to help provide child passenger safety for the community.

The grant was part of $660,773 awarded to 33 communities across the state by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

North Adams will offer free inspections of safety seats at a car-seat checkpoint and give out new seats on a needs basis. The program will also focus on education and preventative measures for the public.

The ambulance service will purchase approximately 70 child safety seats through Wal-Mart's online store, with the child seats - including infant, booster and standard - set to start arrive Monday, the beginning of National Child Passenger Safety Week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1,300 children age 14 and younger were killed in car accidents in 2005; nearly 200,000 were injured. It cites one study that found 73 percent of some 3,500 inspected seats were improperly being used - which could actually increase the chance of injury.

"It's unfortunate when we have to educate people after an accident," said Amalio Jusino, president of Emergency Response Consulting, who composed the grant.

Ambulance service Manager John P. Meaney Jr. said he would like to one day get a couple of specialized safety seats for premature infants.

Trained technicians Robert Dobbert of the North Adams Ambulance Service and firefighter David Simon, a fire and safety educator with the Fire Department, will provide the inspections. If a seat doesn't pass, they will replace it. Meaney also said safety seats should be replaced after a moderate to substantial car accident.

Both departments may also send more workers for training to become car-seat technicians.

"It's a very rigorous course," said Meaney about the 40-hour training course that requires participants maintain a 90 grade average.

Dobbert and Simon will receive additional training at the annual child passenger safety conference in Worcester. The department was invited after receiving the grant.

North Adams Ambulance will also purchase a mobile response trailer that will allow the ambulance service to provide inspections for events in other towns.

"We can pull this anywhere and set up a checkpoint," said Meaney, who added that the service was only able to purchase the mobile unit because of a discount from Pittsfield Lawn and Tractor.

The 10-foot trailer is currently awaiting lettering in Greenfield upon the state's approval. Jusino, who is also a full-time public safety officer for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, said the disbursement of the loan is "heavily overseen by the state," and added, "but it's worth it all."

The grant will be split up - with the first half of items, car seats and the trailer, purchased by the end of September and the remainder of the seats and tents for outside checkpoints by the end of October.

Photos by Lyndsay DeBord 
Ambulance Manager John Meaney Jr., above, and Amalio Jusino say the $10,000 grant will allow the ambulance to provide more inspections and safety seats to area families.
With the cost ranging from $100 to $250 per seat, Meaney said the service will also rely on donations to keep the program going.

The ambulance service inspects seats regularly and gets referrals from the North Adams Regional Hospital's maternity ward. Meaney said the checkpoint is sometimes the first stop new parents make after the hospital.

The ambulance service will also be participating in a community health day at MCLA on Sunday, Oct. 19. Technicians will present for car seat inspections.
"It's a huge event," said Jusino.

To set up a safety seat inspection, contact the business line for the North Adams Ambulance at 413-664-6680 or the Fire Department at 413-664-4922.

Safety Seat Precautions

Technicians have spent up to an hour and a half in past on one visit because of poorly installed safety seats.

Jusino said sometimes simple fixes are needed, such as adjusting a seat's straps to lay flat against a child's chest. Jusino said twisted straps "become a knife at a 50 mph collision." Meaney also said straps are often too loose.

"You can't really go tight enough," said Meaney.

With the grant, the service will also be purchasing an unlikely tool for safety seat adjustments: pool noodles. Jusino said the noodles are used as a filler between the car's seat and safety seat to get the proper angle.

Meaney also said objects in vehicles, like mirrors and "baby on board" signs, become harmful projectiles in a crash. The general manager also used the real-life scenario of a lid from a Dunkin' Donuts cup injuring a child. During an accident, the lid flew to the back seat and lacerated the child, requiring 20 stitches.

"It's the little stuff like that that people just don't think about," said Meaney.

A new enhancement to the state's child passenger safety law, Senate bill No. 2018, was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in April and requires that children under the age of 8 or less than 57 inches tall need to be properly secured in the back seat.

Meany and Jusino said they have seen children that should have been in booster seats but weren't. Meaney added that children are "helpless in the back seat."

"To educate the parents is the first point," said Jusino, and that parents can then educate their children.

Update On New Ambulance

The ambulance service has placed an order for another emergency vehicle after losing the brand-new No.3 ambulance to an unexplained fire earlier this month,

Meaney said the new ambulance will take 150 to 200 days to arrive. For now, the service will use a loaner from First Priority Emergency Vehicles, located in New Jersey. The new vehicle will be identical to the previous model.

"Hopefully, this one won't catch on fire," Meaney joked.

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