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Car seat inititive gaining national attention, officials say

Firefighter Clarke Graves show Kesler Thompson the ladder truck while his mother has a car seat checked.

Firefighter Clarke Graves show Kesler Thompson the ladder truck while his mother has a car seat checked.

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Special Photo Students check car seats to show parents how to properly install them and make sure they are the right size for their child.

WINDER -- Little known fact: A coalition between Barrow County Emergency Services and the Barrow County Sheriff's Office has the highest record of documented saves for children involved in accidents in all of Georgia, officials said.

That means that a child's life was saved when involved in an accident because their parent or caregiver had completed an educational program offered in Barrow. It also exhibits the importance of knowing how to properly buckle youngsters in, officials said.

Earlier this month, firefighters, law enforcement officers and other professionals completed a weeklong training that leaders said is guaranteed to help save lives. The focus was the ins and outs of car-seat safety and laws pertaining to transporting children.

"As one of the students on Monday, I had the opportunity to refresh my knowledge," said Barrow County Emergency Services Lt. Scott Dakin. "It also taught me some more of the current information. This class helps all of us to save lives."

Headed by Barrow County Sheriff Deputy Ed Weaver, the coalition has a program that many around the state and nation are looking at as a successful way of operating, Dakin said.

In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than age 1 and by 54 percent for children ages 1 to 4 in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks, Dakin pointed out.

"Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size," he said.

Deputy Weaver has worked with the Georgia Department of Public Health, teaching the Certified Child Passenger Seat Technician course. They've educated thousands of parents on the safest way to transport children, and their dedication has saved hundreds of children's lives, Dakin said.

The weeklong training was topped off with a car-seat check at a shopping center.

"The coalition here in Barrow County is always looking at ways to educate the citizens ... as a first step in saving lives," Dakin said. "We want every child to be transported as safely as possible each and every time they're in the car."