Gold Cross Ambulance and McGruff, the Crime Dog, have teamed up to brand their ambulances a "McGruff Truck" that can help children in distress.

Gold Cross is the first private, nonpublic service company in America to join the McGruff Truck team, a national program started by the National McGruff House Network to boost neighborhood safety and help children in emergencies.

Children who need help are taught to wave both arms overhead when they see a McGruff truck. And the Gold Cross Ambulance crews are trained to stop and find out what the problem is, contact appropriate authorities and wait with the child until help arrives.

They do not transport the child or place them in the truck. They are neither peacekeeper nor law enforcement and will not approach a child unless he or she is "clearly in trouble."

The McGruff Truck program was piloted in Utah 22 years ago with Questar (then Mountain Fuel) and Comcast, both still active participants. McGruff began his patrol with about a dozen gas utility trucks in Price, Utah. The program now stretches across 24 states, involving 140 corporations and municipalities, as well as 16,000 vehicles. It's a companion program to the McGruff House, which uses carefully screened volunteers who post McGruff House signs in their home windows.