Students completing a skills test involving installing car seatsSafe Kids Macon County worked with the Safe Kids’ state office to hold a Child Passenger Safety technician training course in Franklin last week. Instructors from all over North Carolina travelled to Macon County to teach the four-day course at the Macon County Detention Center.

“We are excited to be able to work with Safe Kids North Carolina to hold a training course in Western North Carolina,” said Safe Kids Macon County Coordinator Deputy Josh Stewart. “Its often difficult for individuals in Western North Carolina to travel to the eastern part of the state for the four-day training, so being able to have one in our area allowed us to get 19 new technicians certified.”

The training course quickly filled up and even had a waiting list. With organizations and Students climbed in and out of dozens of vehicles throughout the week to practice the material they learnedagencies in the westernmost counties wanting to take advantage of the course, Deputy Stewart said that Safe Kids Macon County will be working to hold another course in Macon County soon.

The 19 new technicians span four WNC counties with individuals from Cherokee County, Jackson County, Macon County and the Cherokee Indian Reservation attending the course and receiving their state certification in child passenger safety. Cherokee County representatives travelled from Murphy to Franklin and were trained to operate in the Cherokee County Health Department. Safe Kids Jackson County’s coordinator and Jackson County Health Department employee Ruby Lawrence also attended the course to become certified for her community. The Cherokee Reservation sent members of their health department’s WIC Program to attend the training. For Macon County, representatives from Angel Medical Center, Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Franklin Police Department, Macon Program for Progress, Macon County Department of Social Services, and members of several fire departments throughout the county were all certified.

Students completing a skills test to become certified“Having 19 technicians representing so many different organizations in Western North Carolina will help ensure that the community has better access to technicians in our area,” said Deputy Stewart. “This is the first step in building a network that will help to ensure children in our part of the state are as safe as possible when traveling in vehicles.”

With vehicle accidents being the leading cause of death for children in the country, Safe Kids Worldwide continues to make child passenger safety a priority of the organization. Safe Kids Macon County intends to continue working to raise awareness of child passenger safety in the community year round.

To close out the four-day course, the 19 technicians participated in a free car seat checking event at the Robert C. Carpenter Community building on Friday. The technicians checked 14Claudia Summers, Lead Instructor address the class car seats Friday morning, and out of the 14 car seats that were checked, 13 car seats were found to be incorrectly installed, with one car seat needing to be replaced due to a serious recall regarding the seat.

“Although Friday’s seat checking event was part of the class, the alarming number of incorrectly installed car seats that were found goes to show how important creating a network of technicians in our area is,” said Deputy Stewart. “We want to continue building Safe Kids as a resource for the community to help educate parents and caregivers on proper child passenger safety.”

View of Friday's seat checkSafe Kids Macon County is currently working to develop a full list of certified technicians in Western North Carolina to ensure that members of the public have easy access to have their seats inspected. Once the list is compiled, it will be distributed to agencies throughout the region such as police departments, hospitals, recreation departments, and other organizations that work closely with children in the community. In Macon County, the 13 individuals that were certified last week, will ideally be used to help establish permanent checking stations throughout the county for families to check their child safety seats. unnamed