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November/December  2004

THE POWER OF ONE
Preventing One Fall Can Stop More Unfortunate Deaths 
By Dean Shaddock


Fall by the wayside. It is a commonly used phrase in speech but what does it really mean? One definition is that people stop doing, stop making or stop using something. When that something is an opportunity to prevent a needless tragedy, such an opportunity must not fall by the wayside.

Every one of us has the opportunity to take simple steps to prevent a child’s fall from a window or balcony. The Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association (CWDMA) is keenly interested in ensuring that opportunities to prevent these falls do not fall by the wayside. All of us can do something, make something or use something to prevent a child from falling out of a window or off a balcony. 

Needless injuries and deaths occur when children fall out of windows or off of balconies. Sadly, this is a relatively common occurrence that can be prevented. In Toronto, Ontario, over the last two-and-a-half years, six children have been critically injured and four children have died after falling from a window or balcony. Similar tragedies have occurred in other Canadian cities. The National Safe Kids Campaign in the United States recently reported that 18 children die from window fall-related injuries and estimated that 4, 700 are injured annually. What is being done to prevent these tragedies?

Spreading the Word
In 2002, Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was invited to participate in promoting its window and balcony safety message at Win-door. In addition to a modest Toronto EMS tabletop display of educational information, a local television station (CITY-TV/CP24) broadcast live segments during its popular “Breakfast Television” show. Those segments provided detailed information to the public on window safety for children and on fenestration industry manufacturing processes and products. The success of this experience resulted in the development of a partnership between Toronto EMS and the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association to promote window and balcony safety for children.

This ongoing partnership yielded impressive results at Win-door North America 2003. Toronto EMS and the CWDMA were joined by a new partner, SMARTRISK, a national non-profit injury prevention organization. Toronto EMS was supported by the CWDMA, the show committee, the show decorator, Freeman Decorating Ltd. and the show manager Shield Associates Ltd. The group developed a display booth complete with a restored 1954 Packard ambulance, a brand new 2003 Toronto EMS Emergency Response Unit vehicle and a photo and video educational display. A golf putting challenge sponsored by the Calgary-based North America Profiles Group gave show participants a chance to demonstrate their golf skills and an opportunity to win one of three sets of Tommy Armour golf clubs. The North American Profiles Group continue to be tremendous supporters of this project to promote safety for children. Ultimately, $2,500 dollars was raised and donated to SMARTRISK, to further develop a window and balcony fall prevention program for children.

Future Plans
At the Win-door 2004 show Toronto EMS will have a booth dedicated to the promotion of window and door safety for children. Toronto EMS will showcase one of its new 2004 GM ambulances. In addition, the popular golf putting challenge will return. The Toronto EMS display booth and activities during the opening evening reception will demonstrate how windows and doors could be a danger for children, the tragic results that occur when proper safety precautions are not used and how these dangers can be avoided and prevent an injury or death. Toronto EMS paramedics will participate in a live action scenario that demonstrates what they do to save a child’s life when a fall from a window or balcony occurs. 

Preventing just one fall, a fall by the wayside, can prevent many more falls … those that occur when children fall from windows or balconies! The CWDMA, Toronto EMS and SMARTRISK want to ensure that everyone does something, makes something or uses something to prevent the tragedy of a child falling out of a window or off of a balcony. Together we have an opportunity to prevent such tragedies. 

If you weren’t able to learn more at Win-door contact SMARTRISK at www.smartrisk.ca or the CWDMA at www.cwdma.ca. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association is also very involved in child safety, and you can visit them at www.wdma.com. You can also visit the Screen Manufactur-ers Association at www.smacentral.org. 

Dean Shaddock serves as coordinator of community medicine for Toronto EMS.

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