‘Andy the Ambulance’ teaches kids about safety at their level

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Many important lessons learned by children are taught by characters other than adults, and for Terri Grove, Switzerland County EMS coordinator, putting this idea to use might just teach lessons that will save lives.

Switzerland County EMS has begun a fundraising effort to purchase “Andy the Ambulance”, a small, remote-controlled vehicle that can be used to teach lessons about safety and emergency response.

“Andy is remote controlled, and the controller can be up to 75-feet away from him,” Terri Grove said. “Andy has speakers in him that allows the controller to ask questions to children in a very non-threatening way. Kids aren’t scared of him because he’s very friendly and down at their level.”

Andy can ask children questions such as “Do you know what number to call if there’s an emergency?”; and when the child gives the correct “911” answer, Andy celebrates by blinking his lights and moving his eyes. If the child gives the wrong answer or doesn’t know the answer, Andy can then teach everyone around him what to do and when to do it.

“Andy can also shoot water and sing songs and all sorts of things,” Terri Grove said. “It’s a great tool to use and to teach about what to do in case of an emergency.”

EMS officials say that Andy can be used in classrooms, fairs, festivals, open houses, or any setting where groups of children – and others – will be gathered. He can be used inside or outdoors, so he’ll be making appearances in parades and other events.

Although Andy is most effective with preschool age children up to third grade, Terri Grove said that everyone will learn important lessons from interacting with Andy.

“We want to take Andy to the nursing home and other places,” she said. “He may not be teaching them new things, but he’s certainly entertaining. We think everyone will enjoy being around him.”

Terri Grove used to don a costume when she worked in Ohio County, “Judy” the pink bear, and through that she’s seen firsthand the power that a character can have on a child and parents.

“I was in a store once and a mom walked up to me and said, ‘I just want you to know that I wear my seatbelt all the time now because Judy told my daughter to make sure that her mommy wears her seatbelt’,” Terri Grove said. “Kids can have a powerful influence on their parents.”

“Andy the Ambulance” carries a price tag of $9,000, and Switzerland County EMS is currently in the midst of a fundraising effort to purchase a unit for the county. They hope to raise the funds and have Andy here in Switzerland County by the end of the school year, giving Terri Grove and others the chance to introduce Andy to county children before they leave for summer break.

A fundraising thermometer has been erected in front of the EMS building on East Main Street in Vevay; and the project has already received funding from the Delores Cole Memorial Fund and from West Main Supply. Any individual, organization, or business who would like to make a donation towards Andy’s purchase may drop it off at the EMS Building, or donations may be mailed to: Switzerland County EMS, 809 East Main Street, Vevay, Indiana, 47043. Donations should be marked: “Andy Ambulance”.

Terri Grove said that a donation to Andy is also a wonderful memorial gift for a family member who wants to honor a loved one, or a donation for someone who wants to make a positive difference in their community.

Terri Grove “found” Andy while attending an EMS conference in Texas, and she got the chance to “play” with Andy and some children.

“It’s just amazing how the kids react to Andy,” Terri Grove said. “They just really respond to him. I immediately saw the value in having Andy in Switzerland County. Kids learn lessons from characters like ‘Barney’ and they learn Spanish from ‘Dora’, so why not use Andy to teach them lessons that might save their life or someone elses?”

Terri Grove said that she intends to take Andy anywhere where kids are, and she also sees Andy make appearances at area daycare centers and group meetings.

“We will take advantage of any chance to reach children,” Terri Grove said.