Special Students In Bradley County Receive Bicycle Helmets For Tornado Safety

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Children from the Comprehensive Development Class at Waterville Elementary in Cleveland testing their bicycle helmets which were donated by Children’s Hospital so they will have extra protection during a tornado warning.  Pictured from left to right, are Noah Bishop, Jason Rahal, Chandler Gates, Andy Gutherie, Javonte Lazenby, Tyler Ruback, Luke Cook, Britney Wall, and Kaleigh Bass.
Children from the Comprehensive Development Class at Waterville Elementary in Cleveland testing their bicycle helmets which were donated by Children’s Hospital so they will have extra protection during a tornado warning. Pictured from left to right, are Noah Bishop, Jason Rahal, Chandler Gates, Andy Gutherie, Javonte Lazenby, Tyler Ruback, Luke Cook, Britney Wall, and Kaleigh Bass.

When the Safe and Sound Program at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger received a request for bicycle helmets for a Bradley County school, little did the staff know just how important the helmets would be for some very special students. 

Several months ago, parents and teachers from Waterville Elementary paused to remember how very fortunate they were after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. Several other schools and homes in the area were damaged by the storms, and children are still traumatized by signs of inclement weather.  However, some students can feel a little safer the next time there is a tornado warning at their school. 

School nurses Reyne Pohl from Waterville Elementary and Dorothy Philips from Taylor Elementary had an idea that would eventually help protect special education students during a tornado warning. 

“We have 27 students between the ages of five and ten years old who were unable to protect their heads with books like the other students in their school,” said Ms. Pohl.  “We did not have enough staff to help hold books over their heads during tornado drills, and they were left unprotected.” 

The nurses contacted Cathy Jennings with the Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile whose medical service outreach in Bradley County created a safety partnership between the school system and the hospital.  Coy Ellis, Children’s Hospital Safe and Sound Coordinator, was asked if Safe and Sound could donate bicycle helmets so the children could wear them during a tornado warning. 

“We have a wonderful relationship with our regional outreach,” said Ms. Jennings.  “We uncovered a need, and it spoke volumes to see it answered so quickly.” 

After the helmets were delivered, they were labeled with each student’s name.  When there is a warning, the student or teacher will go to the closet, retrieve the helmet, and make sure each helmet is snug on the child’s head. 

“We labeled them with the child’s name so they will fit properly,” said Ms. Pohl.  “And, if something happens to the child, he or she can be easily identified.” 

The children recently participated in a mini drill to test the new policy with the bicycle helmets.  The teachers and parents thought it was a huge success, and are extremely grateful for the support from Children’s Hospital. 

“This was just one step further in keeping the children safe while at school,” said Ms. Pohl.

“It was one of the most creative ideas we have heard in a long time,” said Mr. Ellis.  “I am looking forward to working with other schools in the region to provide this same service.” 


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