In the first terrifying minutes after the rescue squad arrived, the small, bleeding boy was inconsolable -- until Linda Zimmerman handed him the staff teddy bear.

"He warmed right up to me," said Zimmerman, who is assigned to Ellicott City for the Howard County Fire and Rescue Services and carries a stuffed animal along for just such emergencies. "He calmed down, and I got him to look at the teddy bear. It got his mind off his injuries . . . . I said, 'The teddy bear's going to be here to help you.' "

The only problem, Zimmerman said, is that "most of the time, we have to take the bear back."

Enter the Daisies of Howard County, armed with bears.

On Saturday, in a ceremony at their annual Teddy Bear Picnic in Columbia, these young Girl Scouts plan to turn over all the stuffed animals they have collected or bought for the rescue service.

The Daisies, who are even younger than Brownies, want ambulance workers to be able to present the toys as gifts to injured youngsters. Each of the Girl Scout troops in the county -- which has 2,800 Girl Scouts, including 300 Daisies -- has been asked to donate at least one new or reconditioned stuffed animal. The teddy bear is the Daisy symbol.

"The girls are taking to it real well," said Karen Stone, the Columbia Daisy troop leader who organized the teddy bear drive. " . . . I said, 'If you were in a fire or going to a hospital, would you like someone to take your bear away?' They went to their moms and got some toys together.

"This is a service project done from the heart and done in fun," said Stone, who expects 100 to 150 stuffed animals to be collected.

"We bought a blue teddy bear," said Danielle McFerron, 7, a member of Stone's troop. "My mom got it for me. It's to give to little kids to keep when {they} get in danger . . . like when they're stuck in a fire, when the firemen come. It's supposed to calm them down . . . . "

Psychologists say teddy bears often provide more solace than blankets and lullabies for traumatized children.

In recent years, as part of a national trend, police in Howard and other jurisdictions have carried stuffed animals. But Howard firefighters and rescue workers have never had a steady supply, officials said.

Rescue workers said that they often resort to blowing up rubber gloves and putting funny faces on them to entertain children who are being taken to hospitals. "Any time we deal with children it's an emotional situation all the way around," said Donald R. Howell, commander of the rescue service. " . . . Anything we can do to turn that around . . . leaves us with a positive feeling."

Howell said his department hopes to find a way to perpetuate the bear roundup.

Repossessing a teddy bear from an injured child "is obviously not the most positive way to end the ordeal," he said.