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Children learn about safety on wheels

July 2, 2011
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer (wscott@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

FOLLANSBEE - Whether riding an all-terrain vehicle or their bicycles, children at Hooverson Heights Primary School learned what they can do to prevent accidents or better protect themselves should one occur.

Representatives of the Brooke County Emergency Medical Service, Brooke County Sheriff's Department, STAT MedEvac medical helicopter service and Hooverson Heights Fire Department were on hand for the school's first ATV and Bicycle Safety Day.

The day was coordinated by Shawn and Dana Durbin, who have organized an ATV Safety Day for Follansbee and Wellsburg middle schools in recent years.

Shawn, an emergency medical technician for the Brooke County EMS; and Dana, a teacher at Follansbee Middle School, said they were motivated by a large number of ATV-related accidents in West Virginia.

The middle schools were targeted because many of the children there spoke of using ATVs and some were seen with bruises, burns and other injuries they sustained while riding them.

Nicole Ennis, principal at Hooverson Heights Primary School, said she and her staff are aware that even the small children at her school are riding ATVs.

Ennis said Suzanne Davidson, a teacher at Hooverson Heights who had taught at Follansbee Middle School, suggested bringing the Durbins' program to their school also.

As with the middle school programs, the children learned about state ATV laws related to ATVs, including the requirement that anyone under 18 must complete an ATV safety course and wear a helmet.

For information about an ATV safety course and West Virginia's ATV laws, visit www.atvsafety.gov/state/westvirginia.html.

The school's young ATV riders also were urged to wear goggles and other protection and told they should never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle and should ride only an ATV built for their age and size.

Bicycle safety also was emphasized.

Brooke County Sheriff's Deputies Larry Palmer and John White, who are prevention and resource officers in Brooke County Schools, simulated various situations in which a bicyclist may encounter an automobile in the school's gym.

A few children were recruited to ride bikes for the simulations, while others assumed the roles of motorists aboard a cart pushed by White.

Palmer noted bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as motorists, such as stopping at red lights or stop signs.

Like drivers, they should watch for pedestrians crossing the street unexpectedly or the driver of a parked vehicle opening his door unexpectedly, causing the bicyclist to strike the vehicle, he noted.

Palmer said bicyclists and pedestrians approaching intersections should be cautious when approaching intersections and should not assume the drivers of turning vehicles see them because too often they are distracted by cellular phones.

Outside the school the pupils got a close look at an ATV used by the Hooverson Heights Fire Department to reach injured people in secluded areas, a Brooke County ambulance and a STAT MedEvac medical helicopter while learning the role each has played in helping the victims of ATV accidents.

Ennis said thanks to the generosity of the school's business partners, every pupil at the school received a bicycle helmet.

Asked what she learned during the program, fourth-grader Sierra Feldman said ATV riders should always wear a helmet and never have two riders on one ATV.

Kindergartener Alex Kirtley said in addition to a helmet, "you should wear gloves and long pants and sleeves" when riding an ATV to protect one's self.

Kindergartener Harley Blake said whether driving a car or riding a bike, everyone should stop at stop signs or red lights.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

 
 

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