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Curbside car seat clinic reaches across Joint Base San Antonio

| Joint Base San Antonio | Feb. 17, 2016

JBSA-Randolph Public Affairs —

A parking lot overlooking the Family Advocacy/Mental Health Clinic at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph bustled with activity Feb. 8 as parents learned how to correctly install child safety seats in their vehicles.

The “Curbside Car Seat Clinic,” a monthly event presented by the 359th Medical

Operations Squadron Family Advocacy’s New Parent Support Program, attained a milestone as 20 installations were completed – the most yet.

The clinic was unique in that it also attracted members of the JBSA-Lackland community, said Connie Wilson, 359th MDOS family advocacy assistant.

“In late spring, JBSA-Lackland will begin offering its own Car Seat 101 class and curbside clinic, but until then, JBSA-Randolph will provide the services to JBSA-Lackland,” she said.

Car Seat 101, a bimonthly class at JBSA-Randolph, educates parents about laws regarding child safety seats and what to look for when they’re purchasing a car seat for their infant, toddler, pre-school child or elementary school student, said Wilson, who is the JBSA senior child passenger safety technician. Attending Car Seat 101 qualifies parents for a free car seat when they attend the curbside clinic.

Audrey Thompson, 359th MDOS New Parent Support Program nurse and a certified child passenger safety technician, said five technicians assisted with last week’s curbside clinic.

In addition to Wilson and Thompson, Rose Padilla and Lisa Rocha from JBSA-Lackland’s Family Advocacy Program and Patricia Starks, a retired military spouse, instructed parents on the proper installation of car seats. The clinic also includes an inspection of car seats parents already have in their possession.

“We show parents how to properly install the car seats, then they demonstrate that they know how to do it themselves,” she said. “We help them through that process.”

Proper installation is vital because nine out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly, Wilson noted.

Thompson said most parents are not aware of all the knowledge they require to buy and install a child seat, so Car Seat 101 and the curbside clinic fill that void, providing them with the information they need.

“It’s great as parents to have that knowledge in their back pockets – and to know that their babies are safe,” she said. “They learn a lot – and how to do it the right way.”

Thompson said parents’ education includes the kinds of car seats they need.

“There are so many car seats and cars on the market,” she said. “You have to make sure it fits your vehicle and child correctly and meets the safety standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

State law requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless they’re taller than 4-feet-9, to be restrained in a child safety seat. Categories are rear-facing infant seats, convertible seats that are rear- and front-facing, and booster seats for older children.

One of the parents at last week’s curbside clinic was Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Clifton Alexander, Defense Language Institute English Language Center military training manager, who brought his 9-month-old daughter, Trista.

Alexander said he’s learned about car seats from spending time with his siblings’ children, but he and his wife attended Car Seat 101 “to help us learn from true professionals.”

“My wife and I are very dedicated to our baby’s safety and have done extensive amounts of research,” Alexander said. “At the curbside clinic, I would say I learned how to properly install a convertible-style car seat.”

Wilson said it is her hope that car seat services will be streamlined across JBSA so that a class is available every month for anyone in JBSA to attend.

“Currently, JBSA-Randolph offers Car Seat 101 every other month, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston offers their class every month and JBSA-Lackland will come on board in late spring,” she said.

Wilson said Car Seat 101 and the curbside clinic are important components of the New Parent Support Program.

“As new parents, there is so much information given to us about pregnancy, child development and other topics, but not much on car seat safety,” she said. “Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death in children under the age of 16.”

“Many of our population are not aware of the state child restraint laws, as they move so often and, well, it’s just hard to keep up,” Wilson said. “With Car Seat 101, all of that is discussed and so much more.”