News Releases

News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital’s “Hard Head Patrol” Is on the Lookout for Kids Wearing Bicycle Helmets This Summer

Hard Head Patrol rewards kids wearing helmets and offers free helmets to those who aren’t

PITTSBURGH – May 9, 2007 – Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is kicking off the summer with a program aimed at increasing the number of children wearing helmets while riding anything with wheels, including a bicycle, scooter or skateboard.

Beginning this month, Children’s “Hard Head Patrol”  will hit the streets in communities throughout western Pennsylvania to identify kids who aren’t wearing helmets or aren’t wearing them properly while riding on anything with wheels. Children who are wearing a helmet will get a coupon for a free lunch at Wendy’s; those who aren’t will receive a coupon for a free helmet and fitting.

“Research shows that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of brain injury in a bike accident by almost 90 percent, so we know that wearing a helmet can prevent a severe head injury and potentially save your child’s life,” said Barbara A. Gaines, MD, a pediatric surgeon and director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s. “Unfortunately, an increasing number of our patients who sustain injuries while riding bicycles and other wheeled devices aren’t wearing a helmet.”

In 2006, 163 children suffered serious bicycle-related injuries requiring admission to Children’s. Even more troubling is that fewer Children’s patients admitted with bicycle-related injuries are wearing helmets. Helmet use by these patients decreased from 26 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2006.

To reverse this troubling trend, Children’s formed the Hard Head Patrol in 2006. Between May and September 2006, Children’s representatives wearing bright red buttons that read “Hard Head Patrol”  fanned out across southwestern Pennsylvania in search of children on bicycles, scooters, skateboards and other wheeled vehicles. The initiative had a tremendous impact on local communities. More than 115 certified patrollers handed out 1,400 helmets, gave away more than 450 coupons for a free helmet and fitting and awarded 3,200 Wendy’s lunch coupons to kids wearing their helmets properly.

“We are incredibly pleased with the success of the Hard Head Patrol in its first year,” said Dr. Gaines, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “But knowing that we gave away almost 2,000 helmets or coupons for free helmets means that not nearly enough kids are wearing their helmets. There is still a lot of work to do.”

The program is sponsored by Kohl’s as part of the ongoing Kohl’s Cares for Kids® program, which supports children’s health and educational opportunities.

This year, as the summer begins, volunteers from Children’s have once again offered their services to patrol local neighborhoods. Last year, more than 100 communities throughout western Pennsylvania were patrolled. In addition to patrolling, “Hard Heads” had 10 helmet fittings in the area, where children traded in their coupons for a free helmet properly fitted by a trained volunteer.

Children’s will hold 10 Hard Head helmet fittings this summer. View a complete list of fitting times, dates and locations, or learn more about bicycle safety.

For further information, please call Children’s Injury Prevention program at 412-692-8229 or Community Education program at 412-692-7105.


Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
April 21, 2008
  • Increase/Decrease Text Size
  • Print This Page
Last Update
April 21, 2008