Ohio firefighters will soon carry cribs on emergency calls

Published 10:08 am Monday, September 7, 2015

ELYRIA (AP) — Firefighters in an Ohio city will soon add infant pack-and-play cribs to the hooks, hoses and ladders they carry on fire trucks as they race to emergency calls.

The baby items are intended for homes where parents using unsafe sleeping practices run the risk of children dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The Elyria Fire Department in northern Ohio is the latest organization to join an effort to lower the infant mortality rate in Lorain County and throughout the state.

“People trust us and want us in their homes because they called us for help,” Elyria firefighter Brett Bevan told The Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria. “But while we are there, we can also look around, look for any unsafe environments and ask if we can see a baby’s sleep space.”

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Working along with the Elyria Health District, the department will provide the pack-and-plays free to parents. The sets come with a crib sheet, sleep sack and information on safe sleep practices. The department will also collect contact information so a nurse can follow up with the parents.

The city’s health district is the Cribs for Kids distribution site for Lorain County. It’s funded through a mix of grants, but Health Commissioner Kathy Boylan worries the funding will run out while the need for the beds goes on. Each bed and sleep packet costs $80.

“This has to be a program we continue,” Boylan said. “It’s as simple as babies need beds.”

Officials are pushing the campaign because the state’s infant mortality rate Is among the worst in the nation.