While working as a paramedic, Amelia Harrison realised that many children didn’t know how to contact emergency services after an accident. Others would prank call 000, taking vital resources away from people who needed them. It was then that Toby the Teddy — a friendly bear who teaches children about medical emergencies — was born.
“My experience as a paramedic reinforced the absolute necessity of teaching children about medical emergencies and 000,” she said. “Children are often left with a single carer, be it a parent, grandparent, babysitter or sibling. What would happen if that carer fell in the kitchen or in the bathroom and became unconscious? It’s all too common and it’s an incident like that where a child can be the difference between life and death by dialling 000 and enabling timely access to health care.”
After consultation with a friend and primary school teacher, Catherine Buckley, Amelia decided that a picture book would be the best way to get the message out to young children. She then set up her own company, and self-published Is This An Emergency? Ambulance — The Adventures of Toby the Teddy.
“I certainly didn’t have any experience in the world of publishing but I really believed in this project and this cause, so I just found a solution to each and every problem along the way and have produced a book that I am truly proud of — in its aesthetic and its message. As cliché as it sounds, you can do whatever you set your mind to.”
As well as teaching children about medical emergencies in an unthreatening way, the book also helps parents broach the subject with their children. According to Amelia, many parents avoid teaching their children what to do in an emergency out of fear of frightening them. Toby the Teddy makes the information accessible, sensitive and child-friendly.
“You always hope that nothing bad will happen and that a child will never need to call for an ambulance but the reality is that accidents do happen and we should be proactive rather than reactive and have this conversation with children.”
For Amelia, no child is too young to learn how to help in an emergency, if they have the right tools to prepare them.
“Children certainly are capable of saving lives — we just need to teach them how.”
Amelia Harrison completed a Bachelor of Paramedicine at ACU
Image credit: Alex Coppel