By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
One of the employees at the Seward County Health Department was recently recognized for a statewide honor.
Tina Ortiz, a child passenger safety technician at the health department, was recently awarded the Child Passenger Safety Technician of the Year at a renewal conference in Topeka.
“I had no prior notice. I had gone for my child passenger safety tech update, which I have to go every two years to be updated to stay certified, and at the end of that day is when it was presented. So it was a big surprise,” Ortiz said.
She received the award after having checked 113 car seats in the last year. She had gone to the conference in Topeka to renew her child safety tech license.
“They teach new techniques, new car seats that come out and they make sure we know how to install these car seats and all the new features on vehicles and car seats,” explained Ortiz.
Ortiz added that the health department actually does car seat checks for free for those who come by and ask since the department is a checkpoint. While the department prefers appointments, they also do it on a walk-in basis.
“If anyone's not sure, sometimes we all need a little help, just come on by, we don't charge to check for them,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz got her start being a child passenger safety tech through her position as a healthy start home visitor with the health department.
“My supervisors are always looking for other things to help with the safety of children, and they sent me to be a certified interpreter and they said 'they have car seat techs for babies too – would you like to do that?'” she explained. “And so I went looking into it, I went, and I've been certified for eight years now.”
Ortiz also talked about the laws regarding children in car seats with the impending summer travel schedule. She emphasized that child passenger safety is always important, saying that the majority of accidents occur within a mile from the home.
“We all love our children and none of us would want to lose a child and some things safety-wise are the best things we can do for our children,” she said.