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June 7, 2019 by Tanya Marschke
The Lucknow brigade of the Rural Fire Service is often first on the scene at crashes on the Mitchell Highway and have been given cuddly helpers for traumatic situations.
Recently the volunteer brigade was given five Gentle Bears to put in their two fire trucks so they can give them to people at car crashes, fires and other traumatic incidents.
The bears were among 50 that were presented to branches of the Canobolas Zone of the RFS and there were 2500 that have been distributed to 46 RFS stations across the state by Insurance and Care NSW, icare, and Gallagher Bassett.
Lucknow RFS captain Mick Bloomfield welcomed the bears and said previously the volunteer fire fighters gave trauma teddies knitted by his wife Barbara’s mother Dot Floyd, and by Val Wells.
We carry them all the time and have done so for quite a few years.
“We carry them all the time and have done so for quite a few years,” Mr Bloomfield said.
Mr Bloomfield said it was important that some of the bears be distributed to his station due to the number of car crashes the volunteers respond to.
“This year we’ve been to six, we average eight to 10 every year,” he said.
“Unfortunately some of them don’t have very good outcomes, I suppose some of our people would like to have one of them at times.”
He said he remembered giving one of the knitted bears to family after they lost everything in a fire and when he saw the mother again later she told him her children took comfort from them for weeks, if not months.
However, he said the bears are also helpful to adults who might need something to hold onto when in shock after a car crash or fire.
“Barbara gave one to a lady the other day, the lady was in a car crash,” Mr Bloomfield said.
He said previously a trauma teddy was also given to an elderly lady to hold following a fire and she walked around holding the bear.
“It took us four to five hour to put that fire out and half that time she was walking around with it,” He said.
With the new bears he said four have been put in their main fire truck and there is one in another truck and as they are distributed they will be replaced.
Another 2500 Gentle Bears are to be distributed in 2020.
The initiative started in South Australia as the brainchild of Gallagher Bassett and the South Australian Police Department who wanted to do more to help the children they were coming into contact with.