No doubt, an emergency medical situation can be a frightening and emotional experience for anyone, but particularly children. Whether responding for them or a loved one, the incident can be overwhelming not only because of the medical issue at hand, but the commotion of a 9-1-1 response of emergency vehicles arriving with lights and sirens blaring.
To that end, ambulance services have often used programs like ambulance demos to introduce children to EMS and let them know that Paramedics and EMTs are friendly community helpers who will be there in a time of need.
In 2005, Founder Harvey L. Hall and his wife, Lavonne, were looking for a fresh way to connect their ambulance service with kids. The answer was as close as their lovable family pets—two Saint Bernard’s named Siren and Rescue.
The fabled history of St. Bernard’s assisting monks seeking missing or trapped travelers in the Alps made the breed a perfect mascot for the ambulance service.
Planning & Implementation
By combining the names of their two beloved K-9s, Siren the Rescue Dog was created.
Next, they researched and found a costume vendor to create a larger than life mascot for Hall Ambulance.
Siren made its debut at the 2005 Kidfest event sponsored by NBC affiliate KGET-TV 17 in Bakersfield. It was an instant hit with the kids who clamored to hug and take their picture with Siren the Rescue Dog.
The second phase of the project was to create a pint-sized plush of the mascot that the ambulance crews could provide to the sick and injured children they responded to.
Pictures of the mascot were sent to the selected vendor to ensure continuity. The manufacturer believed in the program and in fact provided a discount over what a retailer would typically pay for the same type of plush.
Hall Ambulance Paramedics, EMTs, and Registered Nurses give out approximately 7,000 Siren cuddle toys to the children they care for each year. The Hall Paramedics and EMTs can attest to the change in a child’s demeanor after being presented with a Siren cuddle toy—which often results in a smile. It gives them something to focus on during the care they receive while enroute to the hospital.
The success of the Siren cuddle toy is so great that it has since become a part of the ambulance medical supply inventory.
The Siren mascot has become a popular attraction at community events including the Cal State University Bakersfield Roadrunner Basketball mascot night, the annual Bakersfield Christmas parade, school carnivals, National Night Out, and health fairs.
Each month, Hall Ambulance receives several positive comments through the Company’s Quality Survey from parents expressing how much their child loved receiving a Siren to comfort them during their transport to the hospital.
The impact of Siren the Rescue Dog could not be better illustrated than through an article that appeared in Hall Ambulance’s newsletter, The HallMark, which told the story of a child who had a large Cerebellum Tumor that required aggressive treatment. The Siren plush he received from a Hall Paramedic accompanied him through multiple surgeries as well as trips to Disneyland, Legoland, and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games. No matter where Jacob went, Siren was always right by his side.
One day, the boy misplaced Siren. Frantic, his parents searched everywhere to no avail. Desperate, they reached out to Hall Ambulance and after learning of his plight, the Company coordinated a surprise visit with the Siren mascot arriving in an ambulance to surprise the child and give him a new Siren cuddle toy.
A replacement mascot costume was purchased in 2017 for $1,200.
Currently, the Company distributes approximately 7,000 of the Siren cuddle toys per year, at a cost of $7.33 each.