‘Who put this car seat in?’ – Serious wreck tests mom’s skill at installing car seat

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Amber Bermudez and her son, Luis

As the mom of a 2 year old, Amber Bermudez is the first to admit that when it came to installing her son’s car seat, she would always have somebody else do it. “I would have other people do it for me because I didn’t want to mess up on something that important,” she said. Then one evening this past summer, she was watching KVOA News 4 Tucson when she saw a Kristi’s Kid’s segment – a car seat call-in event. The program was simple. Call in, schedule a class to attend that weekend and then receive a free seat that’s appropriate for your child. Bermudez figured it was education she needed. “I thought it would be important for me to learn how to install his car seat properly in case something ever happened.”

The program, funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is a partnership between Tucson Police and Tucson Medical Center, in which certified child passenger safety technicians teach the classes and provide age- and weight-appropriate car seats. That weekend, she attended the class, which was taught by TPD Officer Danny Peralta. “I remember Amber. She was taking tons of notes in the back of the class and I told her she really didn’t have to do that,” he laughed. “She insisted that she did.”

One of the biggest things she learned? It’s considered a misuse to use both the seat belt and the LATCH system to install a car seat. It’s considered best practice to use either one or the other – but not both, as it’s never been tested.

She also learned that although her son was approaching his third birthday, it was best to keep him rear-facing if he didn’t exceed the height and weight limit for the seat. Keeping a child rear-facing as long as possible helps protect the child’s head, neck and spine in a crash as they cocoon into their seat, as demonstrated in this video.

Well educated and now confident in her installation skills, Bermudez went home and installed her son’s new car seat.

Fast forward a few months, and the unthinkable happened.

FB_IMG_1448998998538On Dec. 1, Bermudez was driving her car with her mom in the passenger seat, her husband in the back seat on the passenger side, and her son, Luis, snug in his car seat in the middle of the back seat. A pick-up truck ran a red light at 29th and Wilmot causing a T-bone collision. “The impact was so hard, it broke the drive shaft off the truck,” said Bermudez. “The back tires from the truck ran over the front of my car.”

Bermudez and her husband were seriously injured, as was her mom who was trapped against the dash.

Tucson Fire crews responded immediately. “Everything happened so fast and was so surreal, but I do remember the medic asking, ‘who put this car seat in?’ I was scared at first thinking, ‘did I do something wrong?’ Then he told me that it was installed perfectly. He said that when, as first responders, they get called to car accidents where children are involved, the car seat is usually not installed properly, which leads to children being injured. He told me that my son’s car seat took all the impact of the crash. When he told me Luis was OK and that it was only because his car seat was installed properly, I broke down in tears. I was so relieved,” she said.

Luis didn’t even have to go to the hospital for observation. Bermudez, her husband and mom were all transported to the hospital via ambulance while her dad picked up little Luis from the scene.

Bermudez is still nursing an arm injury that may require surgery. Her husband is undergoing surgery for his arm injury and grandma is still suffering from a serious knee injury. But while the physical injuries will take time to heal, and mentally she’s still shaken, Bermudez’s emotional state is solid.

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

“I was so relieved that I took the time to get the education and do everything right,” she said, adding that as a mother, she was proud of herself for doing everything she possibly could to protect her baby in a crash. “If I hadn’t taken that class, I’m not sure that my son would be OK today. What Officer Peralta taught me really stuck. And he gave me the confidence to install my son’s car seat for the first time ever. If I hadn’t taken his class, it scares me to think of what may have happened to my son that day.”

TMC offers an assortment of programs for child passenger safety including a car seat loaner program and Children Are Priceless Passengers (CAPP) class, which is held every month in English and Spanish. For just $35, parents can receive life-saving education and an appropriate car seat for their child. TMC also provides free booster seats as part of the Boost Your Booty program.

Additionally, Geico funds a TMC child passenger program, Ride Safe Kids. Classes are held once a month, in English only, where parents can receive education and an appropriate car seat for free. Please call (520) 546-7340 for more information.

Please click here to see KVOA News 4 Tucson’s coverage of the story.

A miraculous recovery prompts Tucson stroke patient to give TMC staff a heartfelt thank you

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Tucson Medical Center clinical staff will tell you that simply helping people when perhaps they need it most is all the reward they need in their noble profession.  So when a patient comes back to say ‘thank you’ following an extraordinary recovery, it is instantly uplifting for them.

Sandy Goodsite recently came back to say ‘thank you,’ and hug the people who she credits with not only saving her life, but also giving her the quality of life she essentially had before April 22, 2014.

That’s when Goodsite, 72, suffered a significant stroke. She was rushed to TMC and received a clot-busting drug called tPA just 22 minutes after hitting the doors of the Emergency Department (ED), one of the fastest response times in the city.  You can read about her incredible ordeal here.

Goodsite is now about 95 percent recovered, as she continues speech and occupational therapies.  She and her husband, semi-retired pediatrician Dr. Ron Goodsite, felt compelled to come back and personally thank those who were working the day she was brought in via ambulance.  They were armed with thank you notes, addressed to every staff member who helped care for her.  As the Goodsites were ready to make their way to their first stop, they were greeted in the lobby by two members of the Neuro Red team, which responds to stroke victims.  “Talking to her, and seeing how well she’s doing reminds me why we do what we do,” said Shannon Bachman, RN.

The Goodsites headed inside TMC’s ED where staff was just as touched that Sandy is not only doing so well, but also took the time to come back.  “It is so fantastic that she came back because it’s typically very rare that we get to see a patient after they leave the ED,” said Heather Williams, ED clinical nurse lead.  Melissa Ritchey, director of TMC’s ED, echoed that sentiment.  “It reminds us why we come to work each day.  I’m so grateful that she came back to say thanks.  You only need to hear that one time to remember each and every time why we do what we do.”

Next stop: TMC’s Intensive Care Unit where Goodsite was greeted and immediately recognized by staff who hadn’t seen her since her two-day stay there in April.  “It’s so nice to see you up walking and talking!” said Jenny Tuttle, ICU clinical nurse lead.  “We always appreciate when people take the time to come back because we see them in a bed, in an acute setting.  It’s not very often we get to see the progress they’ve made, so it means a lot to us to see her doing so well,” she said.

On the neurological unit, clinical nurse lead Nancy Box said she was in awe.  “It’s so neat to see somebody come back and look so good because we rarely get to see the end result.  When they leave here, they typically have some sort of deficit, so it’s amazing to see Sandy talking and moving so well, and how her hard work during rehabilitation has paid off.”

The Goodsites are also catering a savory dinner for the three departments involved in Sandy’s care.  “We wanted to provide a little something for them – to do more than just say thank you,” she said.  But they realize that her incredible care started with the lightning fast response by Tucson Fire paramedics Bill Nielson and Robert Smith.  The Goodsites paid the boys in blue at station No. 7 a visit, and catered a dinner for the crew that was covered by the Arizona Daily Star and KGUN 9 On Your Side.

*Special thank you to TMC volunteer Mary Goeke who stayed late to accommodate the Goodsite’s visit.  Goeke helped transport the Goodsites from the different departments at TMC and said she felt honored to be a part of something so special.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461