Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
Each year, more than 3,000 infants in the United States suffer a preventable sleep-related death, but the Haines City Fire Department is implementing a program to try to eliminate those cases locally.
The Haines City Fire Department has been selected as Polk County’s pilot program to implement the Direct On Scene Education (DOSE) Safe Sleep program. Founded in 2011 by James Carroll, a fire captain in South Florida, and Jennifer Combs, a nurse practitioner with 32 years’ experience in maternal child health, the program helps first responders disseminate Safe Sleep education to their communities.
The Haines City Fire Department will become certified on Sept. 9. Once certified, it will not only be able to help the public with Safe Sleep practices, but assist neighboring agencies in implementing the program.
“Being a first responder is more than just waiting for an emergency to arise,” Fire Chief Jeffrey Davidson said. “Prevention and risk-reduction programs are a big part of what we do. With our city growing the way it is and having so many families coming in, this will be an invaluable resource for our community.”
Aspects of the program include providing an in-home assessment for those who request it and holding educational events. Firefighters and paramedics will offer assessments when on calls to locations with a baby present. The Fire Department will also seek grants to assist with needed supplies for low-income families.
According to research from DOSE, there were 55 infant deaths in Polk County in 2019. Polk County’s rate of 6.7 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 2019 was higher than the state average. Infant mortality rates were higher among Black and Hispanic families in 2019 – both statewide and in Polk County.
“Simple things such as proper sleeping positions and surfaces could actually save a child’s life,” Chief Davidson added. “These children are precious and could end up being future leaders in our community. It’s exciting to be able to give families the knowledge and resources they need to keep them safe.”