Nurse’s car seat certification benefits parents


Car seats are now part of obstetrics nurse Merilee Vance’s work duties at CMMC.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

Why would anyone spend eight hours a day, for four days straight, learning about car seats? Merilee Vance can’t speak for anyone else, but the Central Montana Medical Center obstetrics nurse can at least vouch for herself.

“When I started here, I was told we can’t touch the car seats,” she said. “I was like, ‘We have to touch the car seat.’”

Liability prevents hospital staff from strapping children in, according to Vance. While nurses can help new parents to the car, they can’t help them secure their baby.

Vance felt uncomfortable with policy, so she found a solution benefitting CMMC and its patients: the Child Passenger Safety Technician certification.

CMMC Chief Nursing Officer Delilah Duffy’s reaction to the nurse’s training proposal was immediate.

“I was pretty excited by the idea,” she said. “I was excited someone was willing to do it.”

Now Duffy and CMMC have no problem with Vance strapping children in, and Duffy has even encouraged her goal of teaching all new parents how to correctly use car seats.

“We just believe in keeping our patients safe, especially our little babies,” Duffy said.

Vance is eager to instruct, citing it as something that motivated her to pursue the certification.

“I didn’t just do it so I could strap babies in for parents,” she said. “At the training, we learn to teach parents.”

The Great Falls training session included more information on safely transporting children than Vance had expected.

“We learned everything from the parts of seat belts to the types of car seats,” she said.

One tidbit had a strong impact on Vance, and motivates her to spread her new knowledge throughout the community.

“They told us 74-90 percent of kids aren’t buckled up properly,” she said. “That is huge.”

Looking to learn?
Merilee Vance plans to attend several community events as a Child Passenger Safety Technician, and is helping new parents learn about car seats, but she and CMMC are also offering free consults. Any parents, families or guardians looking to learn about correct car seat usage can set up an appointment by calling the CMMC obstetrics department at 535-6286.



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