SCAT giving out ice cream coupons

Fifth-grader Zekiel Junius receives a free ice cream coupon for wearing his helmet from Sheldon Community Ambulance Team member Jill Cook on Sept. 4 at Sheldon Middle School.

SHELDON—The Sheldon Community Ambulance Team is rewarding kids for safe behavior.

SCAT members are making unannounced visits to Sheldon schools and giving students who arrive on a bicycle, moped or in-line skates a coupon for a free serving of soft-serve ice cream at Casey’s General Store.

The only catch is that the students have to be wearing a helmet.

So far, SCAT members have handed out 12 coupons after two school visits.

On Aug. 28, SCAT visited East Elementary and observed eight of 24 students wearing helmets.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, SCAT set up shop at Sheldon Middle School and found that three of five moped drivers wore a helmet but only one out of 18 bike riders.

At the elementary level, SCAT director Kevin Miller said the kids were pretty excited about getting treats, and he and his team also used the opportunity to promote the message of safety.

“We also talked to the ones that weren’t wearing helmets and kind of told them why they should be wearing helmets,” he said.

During the visit to East Elementary, Miller was taken aback to see that only a third of the students who biked to school wore helmets.

“I knew that people that didn’t wear helmets, but I’m like at that age? You know, I thought, usually, that would be the time when parents would be like, ‘Wear a helmet,’” Miller said.

He said the idea of doing school visits came about after meetings with other city officials during which they decided to find a way to encourage safety.

“We kind of talked about it because there’s a few kids around town we see wearing helmets, but we know the majority of people don’t so we just wanted to give extra incentive,” Miller said.

The collaboration with Casey’s came about naturally.

Miller, who works full time at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon as its emergency medical services education coordinator, used to work at Casey’s and knew the company liked to support local causes.

After going through its corporate office, Miller received numerous free ice cream coupons to give out to Sheldon students who practice safe recreational travel.

Making sure kids are adequately protected is of importance to Miller and the SCAT team.

On Friday, Sept. 6, SCAT was called to Sixth Street and Washington Avenue after a child riding a bike was struck by a vehicle. The 6-year-old boy, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to Sanford Sheldon Medical Center.

The use of bicycle helmets was found to reduce head injury by 48 percent, serious head injury by 60 percent, traumatic brain injury by 53 percent and face injury by 23 percent, according to a 2017 study published U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Another study published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted 54 percent of cyclists who were not wearing a helmet when in an accident involving a motor vehicle died in 2017.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted 53 children under the age of 14 were killed bicycling in 2017.

Those statistics are why Miller and SCAT want to spread the word on wearing a helmet.

SCAT also has planned visits to Sheldon Christian School and St. Patrick’s Catholic School and is trying to set something up with Sheldon High School.

“I’ll be curious to see what the total percentage is all across the schools,” Miller said.