April 8, 2002
Hospital, McDonald's restaurants work together to prevent injuries in Rankin County
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
PEARL, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center gave away more than 100 bicycle helmets Thursday afternoon as part of the first-ever “Think First Thursdays.”
The program is a partnership between the Jackson hospital, Rankin County Safe Communities and McDonald’s restaurants in Pearl to promote safety and injury prevention throughout Rankin County.
“We’ll be doing this on the first Thursday of every month at a different Rankin County McDonald’s,” said Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program. “It’s a great opportunity for us to reach out and educate more children about safety and injury prevention.”
This past Thursday, the Think First team, including certified safety superhero Sammy Safety, conducted a seat belt patrol at the Pearl McDonald’s and issued Smarties candies to buckled children and dum-dums suckers to those who weren’t wearing seat belts.
Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today. Buckle Up America estimates they save up to 9,500 lives each year. Yet only 68 percent of the motor vehicle occupants are buckled. In 1996, more than 60 percent of the occupants killed in fatal crashes were unrestrained.
If 90 percent of Americans wear their seat belts, more than 5,500 deaths and 132,000 injuries annually can be prevented, according to Buckle Up America statistics.
Bicycle helmets are also important safety tools, added Fairburn. “Research shows that a bike helmet reduces the risk of traumatic brain injury by up to 88 percent which shows just how crucial it is that children always wear a helmet when riding bikes or skateboards or scooters.”
Rankin County Safe Communities also checked child safety seats to make sure they were being used properly and gave away 21 seats, said RCSC director Lisa Valedie.
“We really had a great turnout and the people have been really receptive to the whole thing,” she said. “We do all of this for the children whether it’s keeping an infant safe in a car seat or encouraging older kids to wear seat belts and bike helmets. We all work great together.”
With the partnership with McDonald’s restaurants, safety cards will be included in Happy Meals and Think First safety and injury prevention tray liners featuring fun games for children will be placed in food trays.
“We’re so happy to be working with Rankin County Safe Communities and McDonald’s to remind children to think first before getting in any potentially dangerous situation,” Fairburn said. “Children love eating at McDonald’s and now they’ll be able to learn about safety at the same time.”
Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehabilitation Center's certified safety superhero, works to prevent child hood injuries at several McDonald's restaurants in Rankin County.