Free portable cribs available to provide safe sleeping areas for infants
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Emergency responders recently went through training to safeguard some of Crawford County’s most precious citizens.
A train the trainer class for safe sleep for infants was held at the Frederic Township Fire and EMS Department on Saturday, March 23.
Doug Pratt, the chief for the Frederic Township Fire and EMS Department, said the class is geared toward newborns up to one year in age.
The training includes educating parents about not putting blankets and toys in with an infant while they are sleeping, and that bumper pads in cribs should be removed.
“It’s anything that could suffocate or harm a baby while they’re sleeping,” Pratt said.
Parents are also urged to not place the baby in the bed where they sleep, due to the risk of suffocation.
A total of 25 firefighters and EMS personnel took part in the training, as well as Sgt. Michael Gammicchia and Deputy Shawn Schnoor from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency responders who detect that a home is not equipped with proper sleeping accommodations for an infant, when responding to calls, can offer a free Pack and Play to remedy the situation.
“It’s basically a crib in a box for the baby to sleep in and it comes with sheets that are safe for the baby,” Pratt said.
Pratt is one of three fire chiefs appointed to serve on the Emergency Medical Services Coordination Committee for the state through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). He learned of the safe sleep program as part of his role on an education subcommittee.
Pratt requested that Terrie Godde, a state EMS training coordinator, come to Crawford County for the safe sleep training since there have been a couple of recent infant deaths in the area.
Pratt acknowledged that due to the area’s high poverty rates and substandard housing conditions, parents struggle to provide a proper sleeping environment for newborns.
“People just can’t afford it,” Pratt said.
Pratt said safe sleep training has taken place downstate, and in one area in the Upper Peninsula. He said the class in Frederic was the first training provided in northern Michigan.
First responders who took the class can now train other emergency personnel and law enforcement.
“Once you take the class, we have access to Pack and Plays, literature, and a lot of the state assets that we never had before,” Pratt said.
Pratt said that Michigan had one of the lowest infant death rates recorded in 2016 compared to the last several years, which state officials attribute to the training and getting the word out on safe sleep to the public.
Pratt said if emergency responders notice there are no safe sleeping accommodations for infants, there will be no finger-pointing or reports forwarded to law enforcement for DHHS.
Instead, an appointment will be made to bring the Pack and Play to the households, and education will be provided to the parents on how put it together and how to place the infant safely in the crib to sleep.
“We’re just going to go, educate them, give them a Pack and Play, and away we go,” Pratt said.
The Pack and Play units are being kept at the Frederic Township Fire and EMS Department.
“We have three currently, and we have access to whole lot more if we need them,” Pratt said. “We have to use them in order to get more.”
The units will be made available to any parents in need, regardless if they live in Crawford County.
“I don’t care what county they’re in,” Pratt said. “If they need one, we’ll make it right.”
To obtain a Pack and Play or for more information, contact the Frederic Township Fire and EMS Department at (989) 348-8190.