Teddy Bear Clinics are a Perennial Favorite
Children are a natural audience for your community outreach activities, and EMS agencies are always looking for new and different EMS Week activities to appeal to their smallest stakeholders. The next few pages explore a number of different EMS Week ideas that appeal to children of all ages.
A great way to reach kids is to host a teddy bear clinic to help young children feel less afraid about medical emergencies. You can run a teddy bear clinic at an outside venue such as a children's museum, mall or zoo, or at your EMS quarters.
The rescue squad in South Orange Village, New Jersey, has run a teddy bear clinic as part of its EMSC celebration for the past 10 years. Their EMS Week offerings also include CPR classes, fire department demonstrations, blood pressure screenings and other health and safety programs.
Village Clerk, EMT and EMS Week Chairperson Marjorie Smith plans the teddy bear clinic three months in advance, then publicizes it one month ahead of time in local newspapers, newsletters and on the Web. Local children (and their teddy bears) tour an ambulance and get to "role-play with some of the equipment that might be used either with themselves or on their parents," Smith explained.
The student-run Stony Brook Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SBVAC) in Stony Brook, New York, hosts two teddy bear clinics each summer for children in day care centers and day camp programs affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY)-Stony Brook. The day care services’ staff members on campus publicize the event and provide teddy bears for the children, said SBVAC Chief Ahmed Belazi.
The corps chooses kid-friendly volunteers to bring the ambulance to the day care or day camp and uses extra or expired supplies to bandage the teddy bears. At the clinics, children sit on the ambulance, look at the equipment and try some of it on their teddy bears, and meet the EMTs.
Neither the South Orange Village rescue squad nor SBVAC has a specific budget for their teddy bear clinics. If you have extra money or resources to plan the event, you can borrow publicity ideas from the Seton Coastside Medical Center Emergency Room in Moss Beach, California. Seton Coastside publicizes its popular annual teddy bear clinic with articles in the local media, flyers in English and Spanish, banners outside the hospital and outside a local elementary school, emails to local mothers’ clubs, and a coloring contest, said Manager of Community Outreach and Business Development Cheryl Sinclair. Coloring contest winners receive a free teddy bear at the clinic.