Deputies doing their part to help prevent infant sleep-related deaths

By Gena Latrell
glatrell@americanpress.com

Thirteen infants have died in Calcasieu Parish so far this year, according to Charlie Hunter Jr., chief investigator for the Calcasieu Coroner’s Office. And, he said, most of them are preventable.

That’s why Calcasieu sheriff’s deputies are being trained through the Cops N’ Cribs program to reduce sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths. The effort, which started last year, is a partnership with the sheriff’s office, the SWLA Safe Sleep Task Force and the coroner’s office.

Deputies attend four mandatory information sessions on safe-sleep education, concentrating on the risk factors of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths. SIDS has no known cause, while overlay/suffocation deaths are mostly preventable.

“Deputies will learn how to recognize potentially dangerous situations as they respond to calls for service throughout the parish and in turn, inform families and caregivers on the importance of safe sleeping practices,” said Kim Myers, sheriff’s spokesperson.

Arica Reed said her son, Kaden, was six months old when he died while a friend’s sister was baby-sitting him. Hunter later told her Kaden was placed in an adult bed so he could nap. 

“He got wedged between the mattress and the wall and suffocated,” Reed said. “That didn’t sit well with me because it was preventable — it was something that could’ve been stopped.”

Michelle McInnis, a volunteer with the task force, said it’s important to put an end to these tragedies. She said residents continue to volunteer their time to educate others on safe sleep for infants.

“We don’t want families to go through this,” McInnis said.

One of the main risk factors, McInnis said, involves a baby’s sleep position. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1992 that babies sleep on their backs. Since that time, she said infant deaths have dropped by 50 percent.

McInnis suggested knowing the ABC’s of safe sleeping. 

“Babies should sleep alone, on their backs and in their own cribs,” she said. 

Once deputies finish the final training session, scheduled for Monday, they will be certified as Cops N’ Cribs partners.

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