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Aside from making toys, Santa Claus comforts local children in emergency situations

Posted at 4:23 PM, Dec 22, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va -- Santa Claus sees a child in distress, he knows when they need help, and he comforts them during emergencies.

"I've been called when a child's home is on fire,” Santa Claus told News 3. “I've been called when a child has been injured."

It is for a program called "Santa on the Air,” where Santa works with local emergency responders, such as the Virginia Beach EMS. If emergency crews respond to an incident that involves a child, they will have Santa come on their radios to comfort the child.

He has been working with the Virginia Beach EMS – the founders of the program -- and other regional emergency crews since 2004.

"At this time of the year, we don't want the problem or an issue with an injury or an illness to cloud the wonderful time of Christmas,” Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS Division Chief, said.

Santa Claus has his own frequency on the radio. When emergency crews go to the incident that involves that child, they will switch onto that frequency. The child will then hear Santa's comforting message.

Nedelka said children are prone to be scared when in emergency situations.

"A little child is so much more grateful and so much more at ease and understanding what was going on,” Nedelka said.

“Santa on the Air” officially started Tuesday, but he already helped a distressed child in Norfolk on Monday.

"If they just remember the phone number or the radio channel from last year,” Santa said, “they know Santa will be listening in early."

Related: Santa Claus, local organization work together to comfort children with autism for the holidays

Santa will be on the air until Christmas Day. During other times of the year, Nedelka said they have first responders trained in handling situations with children called out to the scene.

Several emergency departments throughout Hampton Roads have participated each year, each one joining at different times. This is the first year the Newport News Fire Department has joined in.