Safe Kids Pima County – keeping kids safe through education and advocacy

Safe Kids Pima County LogoPlenty of us have practice patching up the skinned knees and elbows of active children in our lives.

Unfortunately, though, accidents are too often far more serious than bumps and scrapes. In fact, accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 0 to 19 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news about this chilling statistic is that we have the power to change it. “Childhood accidents can (often? always? Almost always) be prevented – a few easy steps for children and adults can help keep kids safe,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations focused on preventing accidental, childhood injury by educating adults and children, creating safe environments, conducting research, and advocating for effective laws.

Mitchell is a part of TMC’s participation in the Safe Kids initiative, working with community partners to actively engage adults in taking action for stronger child safety. From providing free bike helmets and pool safety to education workshops and school presentations, Mitchell coordinates a full schedule of activities to facilitate child safety awareness.

Jessica MitchellRecently, Mitchell spent a week at Frances Owen Holaway Elementary School, educating each PE class on the merits of bike safety.

“We explain to the kids ‘the brain can’t fix itself’ and make sure every student has a helmet and how to put it on correctly,” Mitchell explained. “The kids also learn the proper hand signals, where it’s safe to ride and how to avoid taking dangerous risks.”

Many child accidents involve bike riding. Over the past three years, Safe Kids Pima County has provided more than 8,000 free bike helmets to children in our community.

Safe Kids Pima County provides information and resources to help keep kids safe. Going forward, look for Mitchell’s monthly blog posts on helping keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

For further information about Safe Kids Pima County, please email or call (520) 324-2783. If you are holding a community event and would like Safe Kids Pima County to attend or participate, click here.

‘Decoy’ has gnawing desire to work with TMC K9 Crime Prevention team

Monty Watt TMC Security Officer

Monty Watt
TMC Security Officer

TMC Security Officer Monty Watt is a self-described “adrenaline junkie,” who loves nothing more than getting decked out in a suit that makes him look like the Michelin Man, and taking a bite from a 100-pound K9 – one of TMC Security’s highly trained dogs. Sure, it may not be for most of us, but Watt says he was hooked the first time he did it. 

“It’s a lot like being at an amusement park.  It’s a little scary since you don’t know what’s going to happen, or how the dog is going to react, but since you’re in the suit, you get the confidence to confront the dog because you know that you’re not going to get hurt,” he said.

Watt hopes to become a K9 handler in the future.  TMC currently has two K9 teams.  TMC Security Supervisor, Crime Prevention, K9 Unit, Jim Myers, is the handler for Ax, a 6-year-old Czech Shepherd.  Officer Cisco Montoya has Orbe, a 5-year-old Czech Shepherd.  Montoya also got hooked the first time he did decoy work.  Years of showing interest in the program and volunteering his time paid off when he was promoted to K9 officer.  Watt hopes for the same result.  His enthusiasm and dedication – he’s been a decoy for five years – will certainly look favorable if the hospital decides to fund another K9 team.  “At 42 years old, I don’t see myself working for a regular police department, and I plan on staying at TMC long term, so I want to be part of TMC’s elite security force,” he said.

TMC Security Officer Monty Watt at a K9 training session

TMC Security Officer Monty Watt at a K9 training session

Decoy training is done five to six times a month as part of the dogs’ maintenance training.  “It’s always a different scenario, and is done in different locations or buildings.  We try to make the experience as real as possible,” said Myers.  “It helps keep their skills sharp.” 

That’s especially important considering these dogs typically have fewer opportunities to go after suspects in real life, like other law enforcement K9’s do.  “In the history of the Crime Prevention Program, we’ve only had one suspect who received a bite.  We need to make sure our dogs can do what they’ve been trained to do.  We need them to always be ready to perform,” said Myers.  

In addition to working on these dogs’ physical skills, they’re also working on their mental game.  “There is a right and a wrong way to be a decoy,” explained Watt.  “The right way is to let the dog feel like he’s won so that he is confident of himself in a real situation.”

Practice makes perfect: TMC’s Clinical Learning Center helps train tomorrow’s doctors

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Dr. Katrina McGuire TMC Resident

Dr. Katrina McGuire
TMC Resident

During the five years Katrina McGuire worked as a Physician’s Assistant, she had a gut feeling she was destined to do more.  “I absolutely loved being a PA, but I always had the desire to go to med school.  I finally decided to pursue it with the encouragement of my family, good friends and some physicians I had worked with.”  Her husband’s military career brought them to Tucson where she finally decided to go for it.  McGuire was accepted to the University of Arizona College of Medicine and graduated this past May.

The aspiring anesthesiologist secured one of a dozen coveted spots in TMC’s transitional intern program.  “I’m drawn to anesthesia because I really enjoy manipulating physiology on a moment to moment basis.  There is a lot of critical care involved with anesthesia.  I’m also attracted to the team environment in the operating room and look forward to working with the surgeons and nurses.”  About half of the group plans to go into anesthesia.  The others will sub-specialize in radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, or radiation oncology.

These brand new docs are preparing for the upcoming year they’ll spend at TMC as a resident.  The first step in their graduate medical training is hands-on experience in a lab setting that’s as close to the real thing as they can get.  “TMC-U uses a state-of-the-art clinical learning center to help these residents refresh some of the skills they learned in med school, but maybe haven’t had an opportunity to use in the past six months or so,” explained program director Dr. Tyler Kent.  “It’s also a chance for these doctors to demonstrate their competency in the various skills.  TMC’s experienced nursing staff participates in this education session that we hold on the first day of the program.”

These nurses headed up different stations the docs rotated through.  The doctors reviewed suturing, how to insert peripheral IV’s, Foley catheters and nasogastric tubes, intubation, and even had to resuscitate a high fidelity mannequin who was simulating a patient in cardiac arrest.  “It’s always helpful to learn from nurses because they have a different perspective and they do a lot of these procedures on a daily basis.  Getting tips from them about how to make things easier or how to think something through is extremely valuable,” said Dr. McGuire.

Over the next twelve months, these doctors will spend time in the medical/surgical unit, intensive care unit, emergency department, surgery, cardiology, and the field they plan to go into.

For Dr. Kent, the interpersonal skills these doctors possess are as critical as their clinical knowledge.  “We try to instill in these residents the importance of being professional and using solid communication skills.  It’s not just about disease and how to treat it.  They need to know they can’t be a cold fish or be too lighthearted when dealing with patients.  Patients are sick.  They don’t want to be in the hospital.  They need things explained to them, and they need to be respected.  We train these doctors to provide comprehensive care to every patient they see.”

Once their TMC internship wraps up next June, these doctors have three to five more years of training ahead of them as they sub-specialize in their respective fields.

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