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MRC News

Published on September 26, 2001
Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service

JACKSON, Miss.—As a part of Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program, physicians and staff at the Jackson hospital are working with firefighters and paramedics to encourage children in Mississippi schools to always think first about bicycle safety.

Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehab’s injury prevention mascot, and the Jackson Fire Department have teamed up to teach students at McLeod Elementary School in Jackson proper hand signals and the importance of always wearing bike helmets. The Think First team encourages students to:

  • Always wear a helmet. The helmet should fit snugly and not move from side to side. The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.
  • Inflate tires properly and check brakes before riding.
  • See and be seen. Always have reflectors on your helmet and bike. Wear bright fluorescent colors when riding.
  • Obey traffic laws. Stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Look right, then left, then right again at all stop signs, stop lights and intersections. Always check behind you before swerving or changing lanes. Ride with the traffic, not against the traffic. Stop or slow to a crawl before entering any roadway or at blind intersections
  • Ride predictably. No swerving or curb jumping and stay off the sidewalks and most importantly—pay attention.
    Each year an estimated 20,000 cyclists are admitted to hospitals and 580,000 receive emergency room treatment. Wearing bicycle safety helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. Children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries, many of which are preventable.

“We want to work closely with schools, fire and police departments and health care professionals to do all we can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries,” said Lauren Fairburn, Think First coordinator. “Children are very responsive when they meet Sammy. They really seem to understand his message and we hope they learn to think first about safety and injury prevention.”

Think First presentations also include a video about injury prevention and a lesson about brain and spinal cord injuries. Students receive a bike reflector, bike safety tips, a family safety checklist and information about school bus safety.

Think First is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety. For more information about Think First, Sammy Safety or to set up a Think First event at a Mississippi school, call Lauren Fairburn at 601.364.3451. 

To read a story about Think First and former Methodist Rehab patient Hayden Perkins in The Clarion-Ledger, click here.