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Rescue workers, ITD launch WHALE program statewide
Identification kits help emergency responders identify kids

ITD’s Office of Highway Safety coordinated a media event in Boise late last month to kick off statewide distribution of WHALE (We Have a Little Emergency) identification kits. The kits provide instant identification of a child in a car safety seat when an adult in the car is injured and unable to talk.

Fire fighters, police officers and child safety partners gathered at a Wal-Mart parking lot to demonstrate proper use of the identification system with child safety seats.

“Children don’t travel just with parents or guardians. They may ride with grandparents, babysitters, neighbors and other caregivers,” said Josephine O’Connor, of the Idaho Transportation Department Office of Highway Safety (OHS). “Everyone who transports young children should have this information attached to their child safety seats.”

Sometimes, just knowing a child’s name can help rescue workers comfort young patients, O’Connor said.

WHALE identification kits are available free to parents and caregivers across the state at some of Idaho’s emergency medical service providers, hospitals, fire departments and local law enforcement agencies, and at Treasure Valley Wal-Mart stores.

“We think it is a wonderful program,” said Sarah Berg of the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in an Idaho Statesman interview. “Being a trauma center, we are very familiar with what happens to accident victims. All to often, we see kids whom we know nothing about. The ability to simply know their name and a little about their medical history can do wonders to help with the care we can provide them.”

Rescue workers can refer to a WHALE identification card attached to the safety seat and find the child’s name, medical information and whom to contact in the event of an emergency. Stickers affixed to car windows and the safety seat also alert emergency workers that the child’s information is close at hand.

During 2002 in Idaho, 1,934 children under 4 years old were involved in crashes, according to OHS figures.

Since October 2001, the WHALE program has been implemented in 34 states and is used by emergency and law enforcement personnel in those states. The program was developed in the early 1990s by a child caregiver in Virginia, and further developed on a national basis by Swedish Medical Center and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For more information on distribution points, or to get a WHALE kit, contact Josephine O’Connor, Idaho Office of Highway Safety, at (208) 334-8103.