Posted on February 19, 2018

With international studies indicating that more than 75 percent of child car seats are improperly installed or used, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is working to reduce the risk of children being injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents by raising awareness of how to properly fit and secure the restraints.

In 2012, Hamad International Training Center (HITC), an initiative of HMC, launched the Kulluna for Health and Safety Campaign. Staff from Kulluna work within the community and provide advice about selecting appropriate child car seats and correct installation. Since launching six years ago, the Kulluna team, in collaboration with Safe Kids Worldwide, USA, has helped install hundreds of child car seats. Kulluna has also introduced a child passenger safety technician’s (CPST) certification which teaches participants how to correctly install and secure child car restraints. To date, over 120 people have completed the certification, which is led by a team of nationally certified safety technicians who provide participants with one-on-one instruction.

Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, HITC Director and Kulluna Chairman, said: “Although some parents do use a child car seat, many don’t know how to use them properly and need help. A child passenger safety technician helps with this through community presentations and/or child safety seat checks with hands-on assistance on their proper use.” The most common causes of improper child car seat use include ignoring the manufacturer's instructions for installation, not following the correct directions for the child’s age, weight, mental, and physical development, installing the seat too loosely, not tightening the harness straps properly, and failing to use all of the harnesses available to properly secure a child into the correct position.

“In Qatar, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for all ages, especially the young. Almost 200 people in Qatar, including children, are killed each year while around 800 suffer severe injuries that need hospital admission or surgery as a result of car crashes. Every year, HMC’s Trauma Center, Ambulance Service, and Emergency Departments treat hundreds of children injured as a result of being unrestrained, or improperly restrained, in motor vehicles. While a significant number survive, we must bear in mind that not all victims will recover fully and many will be forced to live with permanent disabilities,” highlights Dr. Saifeldeen.

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Dr. Aisha Fathi Abeid, the Injury Prevention Assistant Director for the Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP), Hamad Trauma Center, recently completed the CPST certification course and said she has seen first-hand that the improper use of car or booster seats can be deadly. “As a mother, a pediatrician, and a responsible resident of Qatar, I recognized an urgent need to make child passengers safer. In the CPST course offered by Kulluna, I found a concrete way to increase public awareness, teach families with young children about the importance of car seats, and become a more knowledgeable advocate for child passenger safety.”

Dr. Mahmoud Younis, HITC’s Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Community Engagement, says the training is comprehensive. He says as most motor vehicle-related injuries are preventable, it is vital to spread awareness among the general public about the importance of car seat safety. “The CPST certification is a four-day course and combines classroom instruction, indoor, and outdoor hands-on activities, skills assessments with car seats and vehicles, and a community safety seat check-up event. The course involves passing three sets of tests, which include written quizzes, hands-on skills assessments, and a checkup event,” he highlights.

In recent years Qatar has launched a number of initiatives to decrease the incidence of avoidable deaths and disability as a result of motor vehicle crashes. The second action plan of the National Traffic Safety Strategy 2018-2022 was launched last month. The strategy aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to road crashes annually.

More information about child passenger safety is available on the Kulluna website: www.Kulluna.qa

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