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Patients Pie Sacramento Firefighters and Shriners Children's Staff

patient and firefighter with pie in face

A patient poses with a firefighter she just pied in the face as part of the community reintegration event

Patients pied Sacramento firefighters in the face during their visit to Shriners Children’s Northern California where they taught a lesson focused on community reintegration. Sacramento firefighters and Shriners Children’s staff both had the goal of giving confidence and a foundation for peer to peer communication to patients who participated.

The Firefighters Burn Institute (FFBI) and therapeutic recreation and child life specialists at Shriners Children’s design activities for patients to equip patients with a skillset, so they can confidently communicate about their injuries or new medical equipment when they are discharged.

“Kids are innocently curious,” said Kelsey Morgado, spokesperson at Shriners Children’s Northern California. “When our patients leave the hospital and return to school, we want them to have the skills and the confidence to respond when their peers ask questions like ‘Why were you in the hospital?’ or ‘What happened to you?’ If they can practice those skills here, they leave prepared and ready to face new challenges, knowing what they’re going to say and how to physically present themselves.”

patient and firefighter on truck

A patient poses in the driver's seat of a fire engine with a local Sacramento firefighter

Therapeutic recreation specialists, child life specialists and Sacramento firefighters taught patients the proper STEPS for communicating with their peers as they transition out of the hospital.

S – Self talk; tell yourself nice things to help you feel brave

T – Tone of voice; talk friendly, happy and excited

E – Eye contact; look people in the eye

P – Posture; sit or stand straight to non-verbally communicate your confidence

S – Smile; give a warm and friendly smile

The STEPS are part of a children’s illustration book named Sara’s Steps, created by the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. The book acts as a guide for kids to help them develop social skills when talking about their own or their loved one's burn injury.

“We remind our patients that this is their story, and they’re in control of how much they want to share when people ask questions,” said Erin Cloughesy, child life specialist at Shriners Children’s Northern California. “We want them to be prepared, so we rehearse their responses together.”

As a bonus to the fun day, each patient pied a Shriners Children’s staff member or firefighter as the capstone activity.

“There’s a special bond that’s built here between patients and firefighters,” said Joe Pick, Executive Director of FFBI. “Many firefighters save burn survivors, and getting to see them overcome a burn injury is rewarding. Some patients recover here for weeks or months at a time, and we want to bring some early interaction with the community to them.”

patients, firefighters and staff members during registration

Patients, firefighters and Shriners Children's staff participating in the community reintegration event

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