Children’s Hospital of Illinois (CHOI) at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center (SFMC) located in Peoria, Illinois, joined the Injury Free Coalition for Kids family in November 2003. CHOI is located in the heart of the heartland, positioned approximately halfway between St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. CHOI is the only Downstate Illinois tertiary care medical center devoted to children and serves a 35 county area representing over 500,000 children. In 2001, CHOI had over 6,300 inpatient admissions and 15,000 pediatric ED visits. CHOI serves as the Level I Trauma Center for Illinois Department of Public Health’s Trauma Region 2. Also unique to CHOI is its role as a reporting center for the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance system (NEISS) since 1990. CHOI participates as an all injury program site, reporting all injuries treated in the ED. Together with three additional local hospitals that serve as CPSC NEISS reporting sites, injuries occurring in central Illinois are well documented.

CHOI is no stranger to injury prevention. A concentrated, collaborative effort in unintentional injury began in 1999 by bringing child passenger safety to the forefront in Peoria and the surrounding communities. Since a car seat check program began in Peoria, nearly 4400 car seats have been inspected and more than 500 seats have been provided to families in need. A car bed loaner program was instituted in 2001 to address infants being discharged from the hospital that weighed less than 5 pounds or with special needs that a conventional CSS could not accommodate. Since that time, the program has expanded to encompass other conditions that require children to travel in specialized restraints. CHOI was awarded with a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to institute a special needs resource center known as CRUISING kids.

Recognizing that education on proper child safety seat use needed to be widespread, CHOI extended its educational efforts to professionals by offering a variety of classes to improve their knowledge of safe transportation of children. A basic awareness class utilizing the Operation Kids Law Enforcement curriculum created by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and NHTSA is offered to community members. Taking education a step further by noting the need for more certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, CHOI began to offer the NHTSA Standardized Child Passenger Safety Technician training in Peoria twice per year. Since 2000, we have successfully trained 82 professionals as Certified CPS Technicians. Children’s Hospital of Illinois also offers specialized training to CPS technicians to enhance their knowledge of transportation of children with special health care needs.

In Peoria, we pride ourselves on working as a team involving law enforcement, firefighters and medical professionals. As a team our outreach can be more comprehensive and effective than if we each attempted individually. We plan to expand our CPS efforts by targeting EMS first responders, especially in rural areas. They have an opportunity to improve the data collected at the scene of a crash if they document proper/improper Child Safety Seat (CSS) use and seating position in the crashed vehicle. They also have the unique opportunity to inform parents of the need to replace a CSS when it has been occupied in a crash.

Nationwide more than 70 percent of children ages 5 to 14 (2.7million) ride their bicycles, and more than 300,000 are treated in emergency departments for bicycle related injuries. Nearly half of these children are hospitalized with traumatic brain injury. Recognizing that the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet, Children’s Hospital of Illinois Advocacy Committee has provided bike helmets and bike safety education to local and regional children through the UnderCover program. The program enlists elementary schools to promote helmet use while riding bicycles. CHOI provides the helmets to all students in the selected schools during the first year of the program, and a neighborhood or regional organization is to provide bicycle helmets to children in kindergarten for the following two years. The school is encouraged to adopt a policy that no child will be allowed to ride a bicycle to school without wearing a helmet. Through evaluation of injury data collected in the Emergency Department, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Peoria will identify a school with higher than average injuries to implement concentrated injury prevention efforts. These “Injury Free Schools” will focus upon injury prevention both in and out of the classroom, as well as after-school programs that focus on positive role models and mentoring programs.

Children living in rural environments are at an increased risk of injury and are often injured by different mechanisms than children in cities. In central Illinois, an increasing number of rural children are injured or even killed while riding All –Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) for recreational use. Currently in Illinois, there are no regulations that control driver age or helmet usage by children while riding ATV’s. There is also very limited safety information and education available to riders. The Injury Free Coalition of Peoria plans to partner with interested stakeholders to begin an ATV safety education and awareness campaign.