January 12, 2003
Hospital mascot's week-long safety patrol urges students to wear seat belts
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON—So are you a Dum Dum or a Smartie?
Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s injury prevention mascot, Sammy Safety, will ask hundreds of school kids that very question all next week during the Sammy Safety Seatbelts and Treats Week.
Sammy and area emergency personnel will visit schools in Ridgeland, Jackson, Byram and Rankin County to spread the word about the importance of wearing seatbelts. They will greet students as they arrive in the car pool lines and offer them candy based on whether or not they are wearing their seatbelt.
Guess who gets the Dum Dums?
Years of research has proven that seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 45 percent and moderate to critical injuries by 50 percent for front-seat passengers in cars. The numbers are even higher for passengers of light trucks.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates seat belts saved 147,246 lives from 1975 to 2001, including an estimated 12,144 in 2001 alone.
Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director for Methodist Rehab, urges everyone to buckle up every time they get in a car.
“We work with patients every day who have suffered brain or spinal cord injuries in car accidents,” Dr. Vohra said. “Many times these injuries could have been avoided, or have been less severe, if the person had been wearing a seat belt.”
The use of seatbelts is a key component of the Think First message, said Lisa Uzzle Gates, the hospital’s Think First Coordinator.
“The entire program focuses on taking just a few seconds to consider what you are doing before you make a mistake that can have a huge impact on your life, or your quality of life,” Gates said. “Seat belts are a perfect example of that. It takes just a few seconds to buckle up, but as the statistics prove year after year, it’s one of the best ways to protect yourself and your children.”
Sammy and the Think First team will visit the following schools:
- Monday, Jan. 13 – Ann Smith Elementary in Ridgeland, beginning at 7 a.m. Sammy will be joined by Sgt. Gary Davis of the Ridgeland Police Department.
- Tuesday, Jan. 14 – St. Andrew’s Lower Elementary School in Jackson, beginning at 7:25 a.m. Sammy will be joined by a representative of the Jackson Fire Department.
- Wednesday, Jan. 15 – Gary Road Elementary in Byram, beginning at 7:15 a.m. Sammy will be joined by Jackie Moore, fire safety educator for the Jackson Fire Department.
- Thursday, Jan. 16 – McLaurin Elementary in Rankin County, beginning at 7:15 a.m. Sammy will be joined by Lisa Valedie of Rankin County Safe Communities.
- Friday, Jan. 17 – Spann Elementary in Jackson, beginning at 7 a.m. Sammy will be joined by a representative of the Jackson Fire Department.
In addition to the candy the kids will receive, the parents will receive information on the importance of seatbelts.
So, are you going to be a Dum Dum or a Smartie?