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Public benefits from child safety seat-training

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The daughter of a Dexter resident sits in her car seat Friday afternoon as Superior Ambulance employees Katie Harris, left, and Tamara Gillette ensure that the seat is safely secured and positioned. The two women participated in safety technician training held in Roswell this week by Safer New Mexico Now. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Safer New Mexico Now (Safer) held training for four days this week in Roswell for 26 public safety, law enforcement and first responder personnel from southeast New Mexico to teach them about proper fitting and positioning of child safety seats in cars.

Friday afternoon the trainees and their six instructors worked with parents and other drivers in the Walmart parking lot to help properly place car seats and booster seats, answer questions and, when necessary, provide new seats to replace damaged ones.

The training — and the culminating public fitting event — is expected to occur again in Roswell in early summer, according to Jerremy Manzanares, injury prevention resource center manager with Safer.

The nonprofit group, which coordinates with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, has worked since 1985 to reduce traffic fatalities. Its programs address seat belt usage, distracted driving, driving under the influence and age-related driving concerns, as well as the proper use of child safety seats.

Manzanares said that the training aims to increase the number of people in the area able to staff fitting stations or conduct public seat safety clinics.

“The more technicians we have in the area, the more assistance we can offer the public,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to provide a fitting station here in Roswell.”

Right now, fitting stations with monthly or regular sessions are in Artesia, Farmington, Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, according to the organization’s website. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-231-6145.