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Delaware County EMS works to prevent SIDS cases with safe sleep program

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. – Last year, three infants died in Delaware County because of unsafe sleeping conditions. The youngest was just 2-months-old. Now, local agencies are stepping up to do everything they can to prevent deaths like these from happening.

Delaware County EMS has a full program called “Play it Safe.” It involves many things including giving a crib and other safe sleep information to a family in need for free.

“This actually kind of spawned from the prosecutor’s initiative on the Child Fatality Review team, and we participate with that and have for a long time,” said Delaware County EMS Director Jason Rogers. “As we looked into some preventative things that we could do at least in our community, there was a program that helped provide cribs to new parents that didn’t have the means to.”

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association around 3,500 sleep-related infant deaths happen in the U.S. every year. Recent findings from the CDC found many new parents still do things like sleep with their infant in bed, don’t put their baby to sleep on their back, and don't use the right kind of bedding in cribs. These are things first responders in Delaware County see sometimes when they’re out on calls.

“So, the fact that our crews are out every day in people’s homes, they can see potentially people that don’t have the resources or maybe possibly people that don’t have cribs, new babies, those types of things, to make sure that they’re educated,” said Rogers. “So, all they have to do is notify one of our supervisors and say, ‘Hey we need to get a crib for this family, we were just at their house,’ or somebody calls us and says, 'We need a crib for our grandchild,' or something like that, then we send a truck out with all of the proper information."

The safe sleep initiative is just part of the entire Play it Safe program. Here's how it works: If an EMT sees unsafe sleeping conditions for an infant, they’ll arrange a delivery. Someone with EMS will take a truck out of service, and bring a crib, sleep sack and other safe-sleep information to your home. They will put the crib together for you, put the bedding on, and ask you to demonstrate to show you understand.

“We’ll see some homes that have hand-me-down cribs that are generation after generation, but they’re just not safe for these children to be sleeping in,” said Rogers. “So, getting in, getting those people educated, and making sure they have the right resources to be providing the right type of care is really what our goal is that way we show success by not having sleep fatalities, co-sleeping problems, and those types of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases in our community.”

The safe sleep initiative of the Play it Safe Program placed 25 cribs last year, but the program does more than just teach safe sleep practices.

“We’ve added some things about educating siblings and calling 911, and we offer some informational coloring books and those types of things,” said Rogers.

It’s all about educating the community and making sure there are plenty of resources available to the people that live there.

If you’d like more information on the safe sleep program, click here.

For safe sleep resources: click here.

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