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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bike Helmet Giveaway at 4th of July Parade

Joey riding his bike. 
My 13-year-old Joey was out riding bikes with his buddy August last summer on a beautiful Saturday afternoon as he had done so many times before when my phone rang. Joey's number appeared on the caller ID but when I answered, it was August. He seemed upset and all I could hear was screaming. "What is going on," I said. "Is Joey okay?" 

Suddenly a woman gets on the phone. She explains Joey has been in a bike accident by the Fort Thomas Swim Club and that I should come get him. My husband Nick and I quickly jumped in the car.

We arrived to find him bleeding, crying and having a hard time getting up. 

It was obvious he needed stitches in his knee and gravel picked out of his legs and hands. Right before we headed to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, I noticed his brand new helmet was cracked.The doctors and nurses reiterated over and over how lucky he was he had a helmet on. I remember the doctor saying "the helmet made the difference between you getting stitches and going home and being admitted indefinitely with a brain injury or going into surgery."

I kept thinking "what if, what if he didn't have his helmet on?" But luckily, I have taught my children from day one that you don't ride a bike without a helmet.

Joey had just gotten that helmet a few weeks earlier at the Fort Thomas Fourth of July Parade from BRIDGES (Brain Injury Demands Guidance Education and Support) Northern Kentucky

"Last year we passed out about 175 helmets," said Pam Frink who volunteered passing out helmets adding they will do it again this year. "We will be measuring noggins and giving away helmets in front of the fire station on July 4 starting at 10 a.m. and during the parade. The helmets are provided by Bridges and given away in cooperation with fire station personnel."

This year they will have 100 to 140 helmets to give away for toddlers through adults. Joey will be getting fit for a new helmet.

Fort Thomas Fire Fighter and Paramedic Chris Rust believes this is important work. “As first responders, we’ve seen serious injuries from bicycle-related accidents. The benefits of wearing a helmet are pretty clear. It’s a natural fit for us to partner with BRIDGES to advocate for bike helmet safety.” 

BRIDGES partners with local cities, schools organizations or events to promote brain injury awareness, safety and prevention. Through its Bicycle Helmet Giveaway Program, appropriately fitted, safety approved bicycle helmets are provided to children and adults. The events often include brain injury education regarding helmet safety with various leisure activities including bicycling, skating, skate boarding, snowboarding, skiing, sledding, and horseback riding. 

Bob Stark runs the BRIDGES Bicycle Helmet Giveaway Program and is also the risk manager with the City of Covington. He has seen the long-term impact on an individual’s life that can come from dealing with a serious head injury. The program’s objective is to help prevent these situations. “The Bicycle Helmet Giveaway Program focuses on bicycle-related injury prevention, but hopefully has a wider impact in terms of general awareness and education.” 

Head injuries come from a variety of causes, but bicycle-related injuries are one that most people can relate to. According to the Centers for Disease Control over 600,000 people are treated in the US each year in emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries. Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious disability in bicycle-related crashes. Head injuries are involved in 60 percent of bicycle- related deaths and over 30 percent of bicycle related emergency room visits. Bicycle helmets are proven to reduce the severity of bicycle-related head injury by 80 percent. Yet bicycle helmets are not worn by most riders. The CDC reports that only 19 percent of adults and 15 percent of children use helmets all or most of the time while cycling. Communities that have made efforts to advocate for bicycle helmet safety have seen drastic increases in these percentages. 

BRIDGES holds monthly support group meetings; participates in community initiatives related to traumatic brain awareness and prevention; and organizes an annual conference on Traumatic Brain Injury, which provides education, resources and networking for brain injured survivors, military/veterans, their families, and healthcare professionals. 

I am thankful everyday that Joey had on a helmet that fit properly on that beautiful day in July of 2014. If not... we could still be sitting at Children's Hospital with a brain injury. 

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