PLANO, Texas-- As a paramedic for the Plano Fire Department since 1989, John Burch knows how to stay calm in an emergency.
The inventor of the KidO s Bear also knows that children often are scared when they can t understand what is happening. When he was responding several years ago to a 16-month old who had partially swallowed a toy, Mr. Burch recognized a need.
The toy was stuck across the child s airway and paramedics wanted to give him supplemental oxygen, but the boy was afraid of the oxygen mask. The anxiety caused his heart rate to go up, and the result was a trip to the emergency room.
I just determined in my mind to come up with a way to give kids treatment that wasn t so traumatizing, and thus came the bear, explained Mr. Burch.
The bear is made of soft, molded plastic that looks like a child s toy and squeaks when you squeeze it. But the bear also delivers breathing treatments when it connects to a nebulizer through a hole in its stomach.
It comforts the patient and it delivers therapy, said Mr. Burch. They can carry them around like a toy until it s time for a treatment, he explained.
Dr. Robert Kramer is medical director for KidO s LLC, the company that sells the bear. His 7-year-old granddaughter, Logan Sullivan, uses the bear for her asthma treatments. Logan holds the bear in front of her mouth to receive medicine.
She was using just the regular mask, which she was reluctant to cooperate with, to put it mildly, he said.
We used to fight with it a lot, said Logan s mother, Jessica Kramer. It kind of tortured us.
The bear is more like she s playing instead of taking a treatment, so it s helped tremendously.
While the KidO s Bear may not be the most direct form of treatment, getting cooperation from a child makes the process easier, Dr. Kramer said.
What you might lose in efficiency, you make up for in compliance, he explained.
And his granddaughter is definitely in compliance.
She ll play with it when she gets home from school now, Dr. Kramer said. Sometimes she wants to sleep with it. Some nights she ll get up and tell her mother she wants the bear, which means she needs the treatment.
Mr. Burch is focusing on letting parents know the KidO s Bear is available at www.kidosbear.com. The product is also being marketed to older patients suffering from dementia or other illnesses because it provides a nonthreatening way to deliver treatments that might otherwise be refused.
He s not yet had to use the bear on the job, but it s absolutely something I could use, he said.