Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC's Hard Head Patrol on Lookout for Kids Wearing Helmets This Summer

May 10, 2010

Representatives from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC's Hard Head Patrol will scour communities in western Pennsylvania this summer in an ongoing effort to increase helmet use by children riding bicycles, skateboards and anything with wheels.

Children's Hospital created the Hard Head Patrol five years ago as a way of encouraging helmet use because in recent years, nearly 75 percent of children admitted to the hospital for bicycle-related injuries had not been wearing a helmet. In 2009, 148 children were admitted with bicycle-related injuries and 72 percent had not been wearing a helmet.

When Hard Head Patrol volunteers see kids who are riding bicycles or skateboards without helmets, the kids are given coupons for free helmets and are invited to attend a free helmet-fitting event sponsored by Children's Hospital. Kids who are wearing helmets are given a coupon for a free treat from Rita's Italian Ice.

"We are still deeply concerned about the number of injured kids who don't wear helmets," said Barbara A. Gaines, M.D., director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital. "The Hard Head Patrol has been a huge success as we've given out and fitted thousands of kids from throughout western Pennsylvania with new, properly fitting helmets."

Last summer, more than 100 certified Hard Head volunteer patrollers from Children's Hospital fanned out across more than 100 communities, handing out 1,677 helmets, giving away more than 220 coupons for free helmets and fittings, and awarding more than 4,000 coupons for treats to kids wearing their helmets.

The Hard Head Patrol and free helmets are sponsored by Kohl's as part of the ongoing Kohl's Cares for Kids® program, which supports injury prevention programs at Children's Hospital through the hospital's Kohl's Safety Center.

Children's Hospital will hold nine helmet fittings at various locations throughout western Pennsylvania this summer, where families can redeem coupons for free helmets that will be properly fitted by trained Children's representatives. The next helmet fitting is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 16, at UPMC Passavant in Cranberry.

A complete list of fitting times, dates and locations, as well as more information on the Hard Head Patrol is available in the Injury Prevention section of Children's Hospital’s website.