9 December 2019
By Mary Bermingham
Over 50 cuddly teddy bears are joining Cork County Council’s Fire Service before Christmas and will be assigned a very important job. These bears will become part of the fire crew in each fire station in Cork and will ride on every frontline fire truck in Cork County.
The ‘Buddy Bears’ will form an integral part of the Fire Service team and are there to help children that are involved in or witness to traumatic emergency situations. The job of all the Bears is primarily to reduce the suffering of children at incidents and to help children cope with the stresses that they feel from their involvement in a traumatic event.
When children are involved in emergency situations, it can be a very traumatic experience for them. In order to soften the impact that a stressful emergency situation may have on our children, we have implemented this “Buddy Bear” initiative. This idea originated in Kilkenny Fire Service who have their Bears on the run on frontline fire trucks for many years and have told us that they are doing a great job.
It is hoped the Bears will help redirect the focus of the child away from the emergency situation as much as possible, to a comforting friend during the incident i.e. “Buddy Bear”.
It is hoped that emergency situations in which we need to utilise these bears will be few and far between, but we are pleased to be prepared to make a difference in the lives of our children during these difficult events with the help of our “Buddy Bear” friends.
Co-ordinating this initiative on behalf of Cork County Fire Service, Assistant Fire Officer Aaron Fahy has served in Cork County Council’s Fire Service for many years and brings great experience to this project. He is currently training the 50 Bears for this important job.
AFO Fahy had this to say:
‘For the Bears to spring into action, a child may not necessarily need to be injured; it may be that the child is a witness to an incident that causes distress.
It is often hard to predict how drivers, passengers and pedestrians will cope with being involved in road traffic collision or other emergency situation, and children may be particularly affected at these incidents. We want to do all that we can to alleviate the distress caused to children involved or witness to collisions on our roads or other traumatic events.
To ensure the maximum effectiveness of the Bears, they will be used only in circumstances where required. The teddy bears may not be given out at every incident but they will be deployed where the fire and rescue personnel considers it to be appropriate’
Our “Buddy Bears” are currently in training and will be ready to join their crews in the fire stations before Christmas.’
Our “Buddy Bears” would like to tell all the boys and girls in Cork:
‘We are training very hard at the moment in the fire station and learning how we can help all the boys and girls we meet. We love hugs and kisses and will be there to look after you if you need us and hope you can also look after us.
The Mayor of the County Cork, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, was on hand to welcome the new ‘Buddy Bears’ to the Fire Service team at a launch event in Millstreet Fire Station today. He commented
‘It’s great to see these bears joining the team – they have a very important job to assist fire service personnel in any situation where they can help keep children calm and alleviate stress. The “Buddy Bear” will be given to the child to keep and look after at home. It’s a wonderful initiative.”