Marysville kids have fun at ‘Teddy Bear Clinics’

MARYSVILLE — In spite of intermittently cool winds and gray skies, the Marysville Fire District saw dozens of families turn out to its Sunnyside and Shoultes fire stations for their May 22 “Teddy Bear Clinics.”

The morning clinic at Sunnyside drew close to 40 families and $120 in donations, and fitted eight children for helmets, according to Kristen Thorstenson, public information officer and education specialist for the Marysville Fire District. Less than half an hour into its two-hour running time, the afternoon clinic at Shoultes was already thronged with at least half a dozen families.

“Does Elmo need a bandage?” Marysville firefighter and EMT Kamah Nelson asked Trey Matthews, whose stuffed Elmo doll was almost as big as him. While Trey shook his head no, other children, among them Walter Clark IV, brought their teddy bears and other stuffed dolls to Nelson, for her to apply Band-Aids on and wrap in gauze.

Trey and Walter, along with older boy A.J. Albanese, joined Nelson inside an ambulance, where she used a child-sized stuffed doll to show the children how patients are strapped onto stretchers and fitted for oxygen tubes.

The clinics’ tours of the stations’ vehicles and free giveaways of helmets and safety information proved to be just as popular as their patching up of stuffed dolls. While Marysville Fire District Medical Services Officer Terry Matsamura alternated between wrapping gauze around Dylan Himple’s teddy bear and supervising Elle Roskelley as she checked the blood pressure of a heavily swathed Winnie-the-Pooh, Marysville firefighter Carl Lewis showed Kolton Stevenson and Matthew Blake how to wear child-sized life vests properly.

Kolton and Matthew, inseparable pals according to their moms, joined Trey and A.J. in exploring the fire engines. Nelson helped Kolton don a firefighter’s pants and boots, which were so oversized on him that, even with suspenders, they sagged down so far that Kolton fell face-first when he tried to walk in them. Fortunately, the pants themselves cushioned his fall.

“This is educational and fun for the kids,” said Melissa Stevenson, Kolton’s mom. “When I was a kid, the only way I saw this stuff was when my mom had seizures. It’s great for the firefighters to give these kids a more positive look at it.”

“It also gives the kids an opportunity to think about what they might want to do in the future,” said Taral Blake, Matthew’s mom.

Dee Nanley, grandmother of Elle and Jaden Roskelley, appreciated learning that she needed to obtain different car seat boosters for her grandchildren, while Jaden enjoyed the grab-bags of flyers, squishy brain toys and other goodies that Thorstenson handed out.

“If you’re wearing your helmet right, it should be flat across your head and snug enough that trying to move it wiggles your eyebrows,” Thorstenson told Ava Johnson, who was thrilled to be getting a blue helmet that matched her shade of nail polish.

Thorstenson and Matsamura agreed that the Teddy Bear Clinic not only provided important safety information to families, but also made the children who attended feel more comfortable around firefighters and other emergency responders.

“Far too many kids are getting head injuries because they’re not wearing helmets,” said Thorstenson, who added that 85 percent of the Marysville Fire District’s calls are emergency medical responses. “When they come to our stations and spend some time in our aid units, it helps them feel less fearful for when an emergency does happen.”

“It’s great that the community is willing to come out here and let us show them what we do for them,” Matsamura said. “It’s nice to interact with the public in a non-emergency setting. Not everything we do is scary,” he laughed.

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