Sharon Hernandez receives instruction for properly putting her son Liam, 6-months, in a car seat at the KFD car seat clinic on Tuesday, May 10, at Keizer Fire District. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)

Cars and SUVs made their way through the Keizer Fire District bay doors and came out with properly installed car seats as part of KFD and the Mid-Valley Car Seat Safety Coalition’s car seat safety clinic on Tuesday, May 10. 

Volunteers from KFD, Albany Fire Department, Community Action Head Start, Gervais Police Department, Oregon Department of Travel, Marion County Health Department and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital helped 10 families with 18 new car seat installs and instructions during the two-hour, appointment only clinic. 

During the 20-minute appointments, technicians checked current installs, installed new car seats and answered questions. 

It was Sharon Hernandez’s first time at a clinic like this with her two children, 19-month old Jaylene and 6-month old Liam. Hernandez said she had a lot of questions and was impressed with the clinic.

“Now I know they’re safe,” Hernandez said. 

The interest in the appointments was higher than previous clinics, mostly due to there not being a clinic for the past two years, according to KFD Deputy Fire Marshall Anne-Marie Storms. Despite the time off, Storms was happy with how the team of technicians did.

“Getting everything running after not having done a clinic for two years, I feel good about it,” Storms said. “We installed a lot of car seats, helped a lot of people.” 

There were no serious issues found during the clinic, Storms said, and most of the time they saw the same minor problems.

The most common issue, according to Storms, was children too small for regular seats not being in boosters.

“What they don’t realize is 4 foot 9 is a lot,” Storms said. “We’ve had 7, 8, 9-year olds running around that aren’t meeting it. When you really start looking at it, there’s a lot of adults that can barely hit the 4 foot 9 mark.”

To test the need for a booster, there was a bar set up for children to walk under, reminiscent of the “You must be this tall to ride” signs at amusement parks. 

The appointments were fully booked, and Storms said they plan to begin holding clinics monthly. She said that because there has such a long time without any similar clinics, there is currently an increased need for them. 

The plan is to hold monthly clinics, alternating between Tuesday and Thursday and morning and afternoon. The number of appointments will depend on how many available technicians they have, something Storms said is limited.