Lovell Police Chief Dan Laffin remembers what putting a young child in the back of a car used to look like.
“I grew up in the seventies in Brooklyn. Loading kids in the back of the car was throwing Twinkies in the backseat,” Laffin said.
Then child safety seats became prevalent and Laffin remembers how that went too.
“You know the deal, right? Throw the car seat in the back, shove your knee in as hard as you can, cinch up the seatbelt, you’re done,” Laffin joked. “I can do this class in 18 seconds, Stephanie said she needed four days.”
But for the 14 future child safety seat technicians taking the class, held Tuesday through Friday of this week at the Lovell Community Center, it’s going to take four days to become experts.
“I had an opportunity yesterday to see the information she goes over, to see some of the airbag technology and some of the things you’re going to be learning,” Laffin told the class. “It’s tremendous. It’s going to take four days.”
The topics covered during the four-day course will include the basics of injury prevention, crash dynamics, vehicle occupant protection systems, selection of child passenger restraints, correct installation of child safety seats, misuse and compatibility issues, safety in other vehicles and setting up a child safety seat check-up event.
The training is standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
John Fitzgerald, of the Cheyenne Fire Department, will be one of the instructors of the course, said technicians are a resource to all parents who want to keep their children safe.
“As a fire department we see the aftermath of crashes. Kids don’t know how to buckle themselves in, especially infants. It’s the parents’ job to do that and keep their kids safe,” Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes the parents are uninformed on how to install it properly. We just want to make sure to give them information.”
Some of the issues commonly seen, Fitzgerald said, are the compatibility of a car seat with the car it’s installed in. Not every seat is compatible with every car, and placement of the seat. If a child is put by an airbag in the wrong position, it can be fatal.
Car seat technicians can commonly be found at a local police department, fire department or through the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
Or, interested parties may just show up at the community center this Friday. The newly certified technicians, under the supervision of instructors, will perform free child safety seat checks for families on that day from 12 to 3 p.m.
By Ryan Fitzmaurice