Trauma Quilts Deliver Comfort In An Emergency


If you could bottle the sound of 30 charitable women laughing and tying quilts, you'd have a comforting medicine.

And while they may not come in a bottle, for emergency response teams throughout Arizona, hand-made trauma quilts have become a valuable remedy during an emergency.

"Most of the quilts we make are child-size," said Willene Smith who

created the Trauma Quilt Program in 1990. "But they've been given to people of all ages -- from a newborn baby to an 87-year-old woman."

There are about 900 Department of Public Safety vehicles that carry trauma quilts made by Arizona Quilters Guild members throughout Arizona.

"So far, we've supplied 3,030 quilts to DPS since 1990," Smith said. "Lots of other agencies also request the quilts and we're happy to provide them."

To help replenish the supply, a three-day quilt-a-thon is under way at the Pine/Strawberry Community Center where more than 30 women are working to create 250 quilts.

"It's so much fun and we love doing it," Linda O'Dell, chairman of the Strawberry Patchers Quilters, said. "The first time I came to help with this program, my jaw just dropped. I was amazed. It was like a miniature factory and the pile of quilts just kept growing."

Don Voakes, engineer with the Pine/Strawberry Fire Department, said the quilts get used.

"We just had an accident on Feb. 27 north of Strawberry during the snow storm," Voakes said. "It was a one-vehicle rollover with five people involved -- two adults and three children. There were no injuries, but the children were pretty scared."

After transporting the family to the Strawberry Lodge, Voakes and his crew gave each of the children a trauma quilt.

"They really enjoyed having them. It was like getting something for Christmas," Voakes said. "A lot of times when you give the kids a quilt, it really helps to comfort them and then they start talking to us. It makes our job easier."

Voakes said many of the children they treat need to see a doctor.

"The quilts give them something to hold on to. They wrap them around themselves or sit with them in their laps and it really helps them feel better."

All the quilts are made with donated fabric or from materials purchased with proceeds from quilt raffles.

Anyone interested in helping with the Trauma Quilt program, or to donate cotton fabric or other supplies can call Smith at (928) 476-3587, or O'Dell at (928) 476-5286.

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