Over 50 cuddly teddy bears are joining Cork County Council’s Fire Service before Christmas.
The teddy bears will become part of the crew in each fire station and will ride on every frontline fire truck in Cork County.
These new 'Buddy Bears' are there to help children that witness, or are involved in, traumatic emergency situations.
The job of all the bears is to reduce the suffering of children at these incidents and to help children cope with the stresses they feel from their involvement in a traumatic event.
The 'Buddy Bear' initiative originated in the Kilkenny Fire Service. They have used teddy bears for many years and have spoken of the positive effects they have on children.
It is hoped the bears will help redirect the child's focus away from the emergency situation, towards a comforting teddy during the incident.
In a statement, Cork County Fire Service said: "it is hoped that emergency situations in which we need to utilise these bears will be few and far between, but we are pleased to be prepared to make a difference in the lives of our children during these difficult events."
Assistant Fire Officer Aaron Fahy, who is coordinating this initiative, said he is currently training the 50 teddies for the job.
"For the bears to spring into action, a child may not necessarily need to be injured; it may be that the child is a witness to an incident that causes distress," said Officer Fahy.
"It is often hard to predict how drivers, passengers and pedestrians will cope with being involved in road traffic collisions or other emergency situations, and children may be particularly affected by these incidents.
"We want to do all that we can to alleviate the distress caused to children involved or witness to collisions on our roads, or other traumatic events.
"To ensure the maximum effectiveness of the bears, they will be used only in circumstances where required. The teddy bears may not be given out at every incident but they will be deployed where the fire and rescue personnel considers it to be appropriate.
"The 'Buddy Bears' are currently in training and will be ready to join their crews in the fire stations before Christmas. They would like to tell all the boys and girls in Cork: 'We are training very hard at the moment in the fire station and learning how we can help all the boys and girls we meet. We love hugs and kisses and will be there to look after you if you need us and hope you can also look after us'."
The Mayor of the County Cork, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, was at the launch of 'Buddy Bears' in Millstreet Fire Station.
"It’s great to see these bears joining the team, they have a very important job to assist fire service personnel in any situation where they can help keep children calm and alleviate stress.
"The 'Buddy Bear' will be given to the child to keep and look after at home. It’s a wonderful initiative."