“Teddy Bears to the Rescue,” Tambuli, Dec. 1990, 17
Five-year-old Wesley Larsen of Layton, Utah, lies in a hospital bed recovering from multiple injuries to his leg. He is surrounded by balloons, get well greeting cards, and large toy animals. But the thing he keeps closest to him is a small, homemade, brown teddy bear. The bear was given to him by the paramedics. What Wesley does not know is the bear is a gift from the young women of the West Point Utah Stake.
Wesley tells about the paramedics who took him by ambulance to the hospital and gave him the small bear because he was “brave.” During the weeks he spent in traction to repair his leg, the bear was never far from his side.
The comforting bear was the result of a project organized by Micki Adams, West Point Stake Young Women president, and Annice Nixon, her second counselor. After reading in a newspaper of a similar project in another community, they talked with Captain K. D. Simpson of their local sheriff’s department with the idea of placing teddy bears with the sheriff’s paramedic and patrol units.
The bears would be helpful, Captain Simpson told them, because children are involved in approximately 45 percent of all the calls for services by his department.
Knowing how anxious children are when confronting a policeman or a paramedic, the young women of the stake decided, “to give the children something to focus on beside their pain,” Sister Adams said. “We wanted to give them something to hold on to and to love.”
Consequently, at a stake Young Women meeting, work began on cutting out, sewing, stuffing, and hand finishing more than 200 bears.
Lori Ellsworth, a Beehive said, “The first bear I did was hard to make until I got used to doing it. But it was worth it because it might help someone forget their pain.”
Ninety bears were actually completed that evening. The girls took home the unfinished bears to complete in their own time.
The bears are twenty centimeters tall and made from scraps of fabric donated by some stake members. Other members donated the stuffing for the bears.
The sheriff’s department received 100 of the teddy bears. Another 100 were donated to the local hospital where they were hung on a Christmas tree so young patients could choose one for themselves.
When the paramedics or sheriffs respond to a call involving anyone under the age of ten years, they give the child a teddy bear. That’s become department policy.
Captain Simpson said, “It took two or three times for the paramedics to hand out the bears before they realized how effective they were in calming the children. Now the paramedics and sheriffs rely on the bears whenever they work with children.”
However, young children have not been the only recipients. The paramedics gave a bear to an 80-year-old woman who suffered a stroke. “It was the only thing that calmed her down,” said Captain Simpson. “She wouldn’t let go of the bear.”
Captain Simpson, who is also a flight paramedic, knows from his own experience how effective the bears can be with children. Twelve-year-old Nicole Wallace had to be flown by helicopter from one hospital to another. She was bleeding internally from a lacerated kidney and liver suffered in an automobile accident. She refused to let go of her bear at any time during the transfer from hospital to helicopter to hospital. She finally gave up the bear just before undergoing surgery.
Speaking about the accident, Nicole says, “The car was badly smashed, and the paramedics had to take out the back seat before they could lift me out of the rear window. When they put me in the ambulance, they gave me this cute little bear,” Nicole said. “It kept me from getting scared. I would hold on to it, so I wouldn’t hurt so bad. In the hospital it stayed right by me in my bed.”
Jennifer Techmeyer, a Beehive, said, “I thought it was a really a good thing to do to make something to put in the ambulance for the children. But what was really special was being able to donate our love to them.”