KIDS Network and Wichita Police partner to prevent sleep-related infant deaths

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 8:19 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas Infant Death and SIDS (KIDS) Network and the Wichita Police Department are partnering to promote safe sleep for babies.

According to the most recent annual report from the Kansas State Child Death Review Board, 86% of sleep-related deaths occurred when the infant was sleeping in a place other than a safe crib or bassinet. It said 51% were sleeping in an adult bed, and 40% were co-bedding.

“Being a new parent is a heavy load, so we need to do everything we can do to help them. It requires a consistent message, and it requires us all throwing in our efforts to work together,” said Christy Schunn, Executive Director of KIDS Network.

Two WPD detectives underwent training for KIDS Network Safe Sleep Instructor Certification in September, and now they are gearing up for an awareness campaign with the organization.

KIDS Network Safe Sleep Certified Instructors educate Kansas parents, caregivers, child care providers, health care providers, and other community members about safe sleep practices.

They work in hospitals, public and private health clinics, nonprofit organizations, businesses, schools, colleges, and public service entities like law enforcement agencies to educate the whole community about safe sleep.

Detectives Addie Perkins and Donald Moore are the Wichita Police Department’s first certified Safe Sleep Instructors. They told Eyewitness News they have seen the terrible consequences of unsafe sleep first-hand.

Det. Moore said his first call back at work, after his wife gave birth to their baby girl, was for a sleep-related infant death.

I didn’t sleep for probably a couple days afterwards,” said Det. Moore. “I mean, it’s a pretty traumatic event. It’s probably one of the worst police calls that we ever go to, is to see an infant that’s laying there deceased.”

Det. Perkins said she just responded to an infant death, likely caused by co-bedding, in January.

“It happens often, unfortunately. It is something that we are constantly going out on, so preventing any of them would be a goal for us,” said Det. Perkins.

Their first step is to educate other law enforcement. They recently trained 50 police recruits.

“If they do see something concerning, they have the tools now to mention to the family, ‘Hey, this might be a safer way to sleep your child’,” said Det. Perkins.

Schunn keeps the message simple, teaching the ABC’s of safe sleep: babies should sleep Alone, on their Back, in a clutter-free Crib.

“What we want is a baby to sleep in the same room but a separate bed than parents,” said Schunn.

She hopes having Wichita Police on her team will save more babies’ lives.

For more safe sleep resources, or to learn how to get involved, visit the KIDS Network website.

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