During October 2021, LG Electronics Australia recognised Australian firefighter, Tony Chicco as a hero in his community. In 2001, Tony created Team Rescue, an edutainment program that highlights and teaches children about accident prevention, fire safety and survival techniques through songs and entertainment.
Developed together with Greg Page, the original yellow Wiggle, Tony established Team Rescue in order to save lives and help prevent injuries through simple safety messages approved by emergency services and early childhood experts. We spoke with Tony to find out more about his efforts – why he started the initiative, his achievements so far and what’s next for him and Team Rescue.
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
TC: As an Operational Fire Officer with over 30 years’ service, I have witnessed the heartache and trauma suffered by both parents and children as a result of preventable accidents. When I had children of my own, I became more vigilant as a parent and wanted to do everything I could to protect them.
In Australia, we lose over 350 children each year due to preventable accidents, and over 5,000 are hospitalised. After seeing such tragic accidents throughout the course of my career, I knew something was missing and I thought about what Australians could do to prevent these types of accidents. I wanted to continue helping parents and children to ensure they understand the basic safety principles, which could ultimately save their lives one day.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
TC: After witnessing the devastating accidents and suffering experienced by children and parents, I knew I wanted to create a program to help teach children about safety, everyday dangers and risks they may encounter. I decided to create an edutainment program that educates children about accident prevention, fire safety and survival techniques. There are currently no other edutainment formats addressing these important safety messages in our Australian communities, and I wanted to fill the gap.
I took inspiration from the Wiggles, seeing how four entertainers were able to dress up and put together interesting songs and segments to creatively educate and engage children. My target audience is children aged between two to eight years old and I knew the best way to engage them was also through songs and entertainment, and that’s how Team Rescue was established.
I created a superhero entertainment group that represent the different arms of emergency response services including police, firefighters, paramedics and lifeguards, who collectively teach children about safety and accident prevention through song and dance. Given his skill set and professional experience, I approached Greg Page, the original yellow wiggle, to help me develop this concept, write the songs and bring this idea to life.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
TC: After creating the concept, Greg and I developed the pilot episode, and it ran on ABC television. After our pilot launch, Team Rescue began to raise more interest and we produced more episodes and music clips, which were presented to ABC. We entered a new contractual agreement with ABC and were successfully able to place Team Rescue on their ABC iView platform. So far, we have produced 30 music video clips and 26 episodes which are all available to view at any time on ABC iView. Moving forward, we are hoping to secure a permanent time slot on ABC Channel 22.
LG: Have you come up with any challenges?
TC: We faced several challenges during the early days of development. We were rejected from several production houses that stated “safety” could never be entertaining for children and it would not be successful on television.
But more recently, COVID-19 has been our biggest challenge. Before the pandemic hit, we were in the process of developing a national media launch with TV appearances and preparing for a national road show to showcase Team Rescue in local shopping centres. Due to lockdown restrictions, our plans were paused, and we still haven’t been able to put on any live shows.
LG: What is next for you and your initiative?
TC: Due to COVID-19, Team Rescue needed to diversify and develop the business model to ensure Team Rescue’s learnings could reach Australian children in their homes, schools and early learning centres. Since we couldn’t perform live shows or tours, we began creating animation characters and animated episodes of Team Rescue. We are currently in the process of developing Team Rescue Animation with FIKA Entertainment on the Gold Coast, with the hopes of launching in early 2022, where we can take it to a broadcaster and feature our episodes in shopping centres and movie theatres.
LG: What does being named an ‘LG Local Legend’ mean to you?
TC: It was such a surprise to be nominated and selected as a winner in this great initiative from LG Electronics Australia. Being recognised as an LG Local Legend highlights that there are big companies who are acknowledging the small initiatives that members of our community do without seeking recognition.
If I can save one life through Team Rescue and preventative edutainment, then I would have achieved my goal. Thank you, LG, for acknowledging and rewarding Team Rescue, and for helping create awareness to parents, educators, and caregivers of the edutaining safety messages developed to keep our children safe. Through this recognition from LG, we have been given the opportunity to possibly save more lives.
We would truly like to thank Tony for his efforts in supporting Australian communities. We wish Team Rescue our best as they continue to educate children about accident prevention and help save lives through simple safety messages. For more information on Team Rescue, visit https://www.teamrescue.com.au/.
You can learn more about the inspiring work our LG Local Legends are doing within their local communities by visiting lglifesgood.com.au.