Baldwin County Program Seeks to Reduce Infant Deaths

Author: HMHBGA Staff


CONTACT: Elise Blasingame, Executive Director
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia

July 30, 2019 – Milledgeville, GA – On June 27 and June 28, the teams from Grady EMS in Baldwin County and the Milledgeville City firefighters participated in an evidence-based training program to reduce sleep-related infant deaths in Baldwin County. The training was organized by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and Grady EMS in collaboration with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHB).

The program, entitled, ‘Direct On-Site Education’, or ‘DOSE’, is an innovative program developed in 2011 in response to the number of sleep-related infant suffocation deaths occurring in Broward County, Florida. As these deaths are considered preventable, the creators looked for a way to utilize first responders in the fight to reduce infant mortality. DOSE utilizes first responders to disseminate the Safe Infant Sleep message to the communities that they serve. DOSE trains fire fighters, paramedics, EMS personnel, police, child protective investigator officers and housing authority workers to name a few. Those trained are able to do a safe sleep check and education session with families while completing routine calls.

“Since our program’s inception, DOSE has gone from being in one county in Florida, to being in 12 states nationwide,” explains Captain James Carroll, one of the co-creators of the DOSE model.

“We have trained nearly 5,000 first responders. In our two highest risk zip codes in Broward County, we have reduced the number of sleep related infant deaths from seven to nine per year to an average of one to three per year. We know the model works and we are very excited to partner with DPH and HMHB in Georgia to get as many counties utilizing the model as possible.”

In Georgia, three infants a week will die from sleep-related causes, the majority of which are preventable. Sleep-related causes of death include Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and Accidental Suffocation Strangulation in Bed. SIDS and other sleep-related causes are a major contributor to Georgia’s high infant mortality rate. While the rate of SIDS has marginally increased over the last five years, the rate of suffocation has nearly doubled. Education about safe sleep for caregivers and healthcare professionals has the potential to reduce Georgia’s high infant mortality rate.

In Baldwin County, rates of infant mortality due to SIDS and accidental suffocation are significantly higher than other regions of Georgia. (Source: DPH Office of Health Indicators for Planning, 2018)

“We are proud to partner with DPH and test this pilot for the DOSE Program in Baldwin County,” said John Gonzalez, Grady EMS District Manager for Central Georgia. “The firefighters, first responders and EMS personnel we trained are very excited to implement this process to save infant lives in our communities.”

At the training sessions in Baldwin County, Captain James Carroll conducted the training for 17 firefighters, 8 paramedics and 3 paramedic supervisors who will implement the pilot.

“We have been collaborating with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia to identify a pilot site for expanding the DOSE Program in Georgia,” says Terri Miller, Safe Infant Sleep program manager at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Grady EMS has been a wonderful partner in helping us to implement this project in Baldwin County.”

Georgia’s Safe to Sleep Campaign provides tools and resources that strengthen policy, provide consistent education and change infant sleep environments to: prevent infant sleep-related deaths in Georgia, empower professionals to educate parents, empower families to make informed decisions about infant sleep and, increase access to resources that support behaviors that protect infants from sleep-related deaths.

“We were thrilled to partner with DPH to implement strategies from our 2017 Infant Mortality Strategic Planning Process,” said Elise Blasingame, Executive Director for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. “While DOSE was brought to Burke and McDuffie Counties in 2017, we were looking for ways to expand it in other areas of Georgia while ensuring quality data collection on its impact and sustain its presence in our communities. We are very grateful to DPH and Grady EMS, as well as all of the first responders in Baldwin County for taking on this critical challenge.”

The DOSE Program is defined as a Cutting Edge Practice by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP).