Be prepared to save baby

No one expects a baby to be in an emergency situation, but there are times when food or a small toy could block their airways and cause distress, unconsciousness and even death.

What is taught in an adult CPR class is not applicable due to the fragility of a baby’s small body. In addition, a baby cannot point to the problem area as an adult or child could.

Babies that have been extremely ill and had a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital can create extremely anxious and nervous parents upon their release from the health care facility.

Mary Ellen Michael, nurse manager of NICU and special care nursery at Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, commented on the preparation that they do to make parents feel more comfortable taking home an ill infant.

“Before we discharge anyone from the NICU or the special care nursery, we do have a series of DVDs we ask them to watch while they are still in the unit,” Michael said. “They include safe sleep, car seat safety, also infant first aid and CPR. If a baby goes home with a monitor, parents are given instructions from the monitor company as well as CPR before release.”

There are also classes for family members and others who may be interacting with the baby.

“We also offer twice a month on a Wednesday evening and a Saturday morning called family and friends infant CPR free to NICU families and anyone they want to bring in,” Michael said. “Who is going to babysit the baby? Grandma and Grandpa? It is an instructional DVD and hands-on with a mannequin.”

The program is only available for families with a baby in the NICU.

Certain career paths, such as nurses, physicians and emergency medical workers, require infant first aid / CPR instruction. Child care workers, lifeguards, caregivers, counselors and flight attendants also learn these lifesaving instructions for their jobs.

Karen Conklin, executive director of the American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley, believes that the entire public should learn these safety techniques. She advises that participants should be taken in the classroom for the hands-on experience with a dummy and with an instructor who can let you know if you are doing the techniques correctly.

One way to prepare for this is to take one of the infant first aid / CPR classes that are available throughout the area.

Humility of Mary Health Partners offers a two-day Safe Sitter class for 11- to 13-year-old children.

Spencer Moorhead of Howland graduated from the Safe Sitter program last year. He said that the program gave him knowledge to keep calm in an emergency and know what to do.

He learned to assess the situation and see if the baby is choking by trying to get the baby to imitate him when he coughs. He learned to try and get the baby to cough up the item that is stuck in his throat before starting first aid and calling 911.

Moorhead commented that the Heimlich method is performed differently on infants.

“You press down in the middle of their chest with only two fingers,” he said.

Bridget Lackey, HMHP community health educator discussed the Safe Sitter program.

“Children get hands-on experience with ‘Baby Annie’ and practice with an instructor watching them,” Lackey said. “Our Safe Sitter classes are two days, so we have time allotted on the first day to introduce the subject. We watch a short video that goes over Safe Sitter International, explains CPR and the fundamentals of it. We do a demonstration and they get hands-on day one.

“Day two, we review it, and everyone gets a chance to practice it,” Lackey said. “With choking, we tell them why not to do certain things which will lodge farther down the baby’s throat. We use a pop bottle to show how it’s clogged. To get their certificate, there is a written test as well as a demonstration test they must perform.”

Having the knowledge and staying calm are the most important tools to have when there is a critical health situation, especially when it concerns a baby.