Rural Fire Service Macarthur's newest recruits provide 'beary' big help

HELPING HAND: Rural Fire Service Macarthur's Nick Medianik, Blake Foster, Donna Bradley, Steve Marriott and Kate Carter with some trauma teddies. Picture: Simon Bennett
HELPING HAND: Rural Fire Service Macarthur's Nick Medianik, Blake Foster, Donna Bradley, Steve Marriott and Kate Carter with some trauma teddies. Picture: Simon Bennett

They are the little bears that provide a beacon of hope in a child's darkest hour.

Emergency service crews - including firefighters - have handed out teddy bears to children experiencing traumatic situations for decades.

The latest batch of "gentle" bears, commonly known as trauma teddies, arrived at Rural Fire Service (RFS) Macarthur headquarters in Minto last week.

One hundred bears will be distributed to RFS stations across the Campbelltown and Camden areas.

RFS Macarthur district services coordinator Inspector Nick Medianik said the gentle bears were valued by firefighters and the community.

"We have met the community in their darkest hours, including lots of children, at incidents like crashes, rescues or fires," he said.

"These bears provide a small level of comfort at these difficult times. They have also been tools of distraction for kids."

Inspector Medianik said he had given bears to children of all ages.

"Kids really do appreciate the bears," he said.

"When they have been exposed to trauma, it's amazing what they latch on to and identify with.

"The bears also give us an ability to engage with that generation at a level they understand. It shows gentleness and compassion in what we do, at an age when most learning occurs."

This year's gentle bears are sponsored by iCare NSW.

iCare's general manager of agency engagement, Britt Coombe said traumatic incidents could impact the mental health of firefighters, not just community members.

"The gentle bears represent an opportunity for us to support the mental health and well-being of NSW's volunteer firefighters," she said.