Idaho EMS agency launches ABC’s of safe infant sleep campaign

Ada County Paramedics pooled funds from their own paychecks to equip three ambulances with the ABC of Safe Infant Sleep messaging


Scroll down to listen to Ada County Paramedics safe infant sleep PSA.

Ada County Paramedics

BOISE, Idaho — In light of October’s SIDS Awareness Month, Ada County Paramedics launched their “The ABCs of Safe Infant Sleep Campaign” to offer safe sleep education to parents and childcare providers in an effort to protect babies from SIDS and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

Ada County Paramedics Battalion Chief, Bart Buckendorf, who proposed the campaign in partnership with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said it was his 30-year tenure as a paramedic that prompted his push for ABC education — a simple acronym that stands for the child sleeping alone on their back in a crib. 

An Ada County Paramedics ambulance with the ABC's Safe Infant Sleep campaign. (Photo/Ada County Paramedics)
An Ada County Paramedics ambulance with the ABC's Safe Infant Sleep campaign. (Photo/Ada County Paramedics)

“When we get a 911 call from dispatch about a child not breathing. That’s the worse call we can get. That’s the call that we fear,” Buckendorf said. “We hope we can have a positive outcome with the child but too often that doesn’t happen. Anytime you respond to a child, as a paramedic, it’s difficult. It changes you.”

According to Ada County Paramedics call 911 call volume records, there were 15 infant sleep-related deaths since 2010, which is roughly two infant deaths each year. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines SIDS as a form of infant death that cannot be explained, while SUID can be attributed to suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment and various other disease or traumas. The AAP says these risks can be reduced by placing babies to sleep on their back on a firm surface, avoiding bed sharing with parents and keeping things like blankets, pillows and stuffed animals out of cribs.

The organization recorded a public service announcement that is aired for the entire month of October. Additionally, employees of Ada County Paramedics pooled funds from their own paychecks to equip three ambulances in their fleet with the ABC of Safe Infant Sleep messaging. 

Ada County Paramedics Public Information Officer Hadley Mayes said because these types of deaths are preventable, education is the key.

“Placing a baby alone — in their own bed, on their back, in a crib can help ensure a baby doesn’t overheat, suffocate or become trapped under bedding,” Mayes, who has a 7-month-old, said. “Being a new parent is hard, and attempting to sleep train a child to use their crib can be exhausting. But the alternative could be devastating.”

Mayes said over the next few months, more of the Ada County Paramedics ambulance fleet will depict similar Safe Infant Sleep messaging. Ada County Paramedics also plans to work with the state to urge more agencies to tout the importance of educating about the ABCs of Safe Infant Sleep. 

“Losing a child is a horrific travesty,” Mayes said. “Ada County Paramedics wants to encourage anyone who cares for children learns and practices the ABCs of Safe Infant Sleep. It could very well save a life."

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