The Hard Head Patrol, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s community-based program aimed at educating children of all ages on the importance of wearing helmets while riding anything on wheels, returns this month and will hit the streets to keep kids safe.
Running through August, trained Children’s employees and medical staff will monitor communities in western Pennsylvania to raise awareness of helmet safety and identify kids who aren’t wearing helmets or who aren’t wearing them properly while riding on anything with wheels, including bicycles, scooters and skateboards.
Any child spotted without a helmet will be given a coupon for a free helmet and fitting that can be redeemed at various community locations. The Hard Head Patrol will reward kids wearing helmets with Cookie Cards from Giant Eagle. If the helmet is worn incorrectly, staff will make adjustments.
Thousands of children treated at Children’s Hospital every summer have been injured while riding bicycles, scooters and other wheeled devices, and hundreds sustain injuries serious enough to require hospital admission. In 2012, 168 children were admitted for bicycle-related injuries, and 65 percent of those were not wearing helmets at the time of the accident. By reinforcing the importance of helmets and educating our children, more than 85 percent of head injuries could be prevented, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
“After eight years of the Hard Head Patrol, we have seen a decrease in bike-related trauma injuries from 11 percent to 7 percent, which also now includes skateboards and scooters,” said Barbara A. Gaines, M.D., director of Trauma and Injury Prevention at Children’s. “We know we still have work to do, but it is very encouraging and we see the importance of this program to our community.”
Last year, more than 75 certified Hard Head Patrol volunteers scoured across over 100 communities. They gave away more than 2,000 Giant Eagle Cookie Cards as rewards and fit and supplied 3,400 helmets to children free of charge.
Children’s Hospital will hold helmet fittings this summer at various locations throughout the area where families and children can redeem coupons for free helmets that will be properly fitted by trained Children’s representatives. The first fitting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m., Friday, June 14, at the Kohl’s Department Store in Robinson Crossroads Shopping Center.
The Hard Head Patrol program has been generously sponsored by the Kohl’s Foundation as part of the Kohl’s Cares program, which supports injury prevention programs at Children’s through the hospital’s Kohl’s Safety Initiatives.
For a complete list of fitting times, dates and locations, as well as more information on the Hard Head Patrol, visit http://www.chp.edu/CHP/hard+heads or call 412-692-8229.