Swedish Offers Numerous Activities to Help Ensure Kids who Ride in Cars are Safe
SEATTLE, March 6, 2003 -- In conjunction with a national study published in this month's issue of Pediatrics that showed instructions for installing child-safety seats in cars are written in language too difficult for many adults to understand, Swedish Medical Center is involved in numerous efforts designed to provide people with the tools and knowledge they need to help keep kids who ride in cars safe. The first of these activities involves the continuation of an innovative national program that Swedish - with the assistance of police, fire and safety organizations statewide - introduced to Washington state in April 2001. It is called WHALE, for We Have A Little Emergency. As part of the free program, parents are given a WHALE identification card on which they record vital information about the child - such as name, emergency contact and special medical needs. A picture of the child is affixed to the card, which is then placed in a clear plastic sleeve and attached to the back of the car seat. In the event of an accident, the information can be critical, especially if the adult passengers are too injured to talk. The card can help police and fire personnel quickly identify the child, attend to any special medical needs and contact parents or the next closest relative right away. More than 47,000 WHALE packets have been distributed statewide. In addition to the Washington State Patrol, packets have been handed out through numerous organizations, including: the Seattle Police Department, Port of Seattle Police Department, Moses Lake Police Department, Edmonds Fire Department, Washington State General Federation of Women's Clubs, and Washington Safe Kids. Packets are also available at the Tukwila and Lynnwood Babies R Us stores. To date, the WHALE program has been coordinated by Swedish's Volunteer Services and Pediatric Specialty Care departments with the help of volunteers from Seattle Central Community College and the National Charity League's Mercer Island Chapter. It has been funded by the Swedish Medical Center Foundation. Karen Stay, director of Volunteer Services at Swedish's First Hill campus and chair of the national WHALE Task Force, has been working with the American Hospital Association's Department of Volunteer Administration and Auxiliary Services to help make this a national program available to all hospitals. Starting in October 2002, the American Hospital Association began distributing generic WHALE materials and a manual for organizations interested in distributing packets. Individuals or organizations interested in obtaining more information or WHALE materials can call (206) 386-2090 to have packets mailed.