5000th Car Seat Milestone At Packard Children's Hospital

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Car Seats

The car seat fitting program is celebrating the installation of over 5000 car seats since opening in 2004.

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The word is out. Car seat safety is in. That's why parents-to-be Ron and Diane Bell have a special appointment at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital this Wednesday.

"We want to be certain our babies' car seats are installed correctly," said Ron. Babies? That's right, it's a two-fer. The Bells are expecting twins in July, which means that Benjamin Arias, known as the chief guru of car seats at Packard Children's, will perform double-duty in showing the Bells the safest way to position and fasten their newborns' seats. And in the process, the Safely Home Car Seat Fitting Station will set a milestone. Car seat # 5000 and # 5001.

Arias has been a busy man since the station opened in 2004, installing so many seats that he recently added two part-time assistants. "Car seat fitting is a complicated process," said Arias, who noted that 90% of all car seats are not installed properly prior to fitting. "That's why families leave the fitting station very happy. They appreciate being shown the proper way to not only install a car seat but also the ins and outs of child restraints." Arias added that not all car seats are compatible with every vehicle and that written instructions from a manufacturer can be confusing.

Car seat # 5000 is an important achievement for a program that continues to grow in influence. "I absolutely love this job," said Arias, a man who morphs into some unbelievable positions in order to double-check every clip, strap and fastener. "Parents are very grateful for what we do. Sometimes they'll say, 'I've done everything; there's nothing more you can show me about the seat.' After we go through the fitting they'll say 'Wow, I guess I really didn't know it all.'" Arias also teaches families to secure all cargo in the trunk, or use a cargo cover or net for open cargo areas. During a family's 30- minute appointment Arias also ensures that the seat brought by the family has not been recalled. Packard Children's is the only hospital in the Bay Area that offers a daily car seat fitting service. So after all this success, how does Arias feel about the program's next milestone? "Are you kidding? I'm ready for number 10,000 and beyond. We're educating parents and saving lives, and I cannot think of anything more important."

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