Healthy Start and Fire Rescue collaborate to prevent sleep-related infant deaths

news release

Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition is collaborating with Indian River County Fire Rescue to implement a program to help prevent sleep-related infant death in Indian River County. The DOSE (Direct On-Scene Education) program is an innovative approach to eliminating infant death due to suffocation, strangulation, or positional asphyxia by using first responders to identify and remove hazards while delivering education on scene, according to Andrea Berry, Healthy Start’s CEO.

Captain Jim Carroll, trainer from the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Rescue, with Indian River County Fire Rescue (L to R): Captain Tyler Logsdon, Bureau Chief of Training Bill Herrington, Carlo Marques, Captain Steve Adamson, Captain Tyler Parker, and Andrea Berry, CEO of Healthy Start. Photo: Macaylah Kahn

Based on data from the CDC, approximately 3,400 babies die each year as a result of a sleep-related death. From 2015 to 2019, the most recent data available, Indian River County had two SIDs deaths and six sleep-related deaths.

“While the number of known infant deaths for our county may appear small, just think of the untold tragedy for those families. Those babies will never grow up, learn to drive, graduate, get married, and have families of their own,” said Berry. “One is too many for our community. Especially for a death that is preventable.”

Knowing that a safe sleeping environment is one important way to help prevent such a tragedy, Healthy Start formed a partnership with emergency first responders, providing training on how to identify and remove hazards from an infant’s sleep space while on the scene during emergency and non-emergency 911 calls. Captain Jim Carroll of the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Rescue in Broward County is the co-creator of the program and assisted in the training.  

For those families that do not have a safe sleep space for baby, the emergency responder will provide a free Pack ’n Play as a result of Healthy Start’s sponsorship of the program.

“Department personnel recently completed the training and feel confident that we will be able to help provide a safer sleep environment for the babies in our community,” said Bureau Chief Bill Herrington, Indian River Fire and Rescue.

The cost of one Pack ’n Play is $50 and donations are accepted to support the program.

“We want every baby to reach their first birthday to blow out that first candle on their first birthday cake,” said Berry. “We hope that the community will want to support this effort, partnering with us and our first responders.”

 A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1993, the mission of Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition is “to establish and support a local system of care that optimizes the health of moms, babies and their families living in Indian River County.”  Healthy Start touches 95% of pregnant mothers in Indian River County, and services are offered to provide support from prenatal to childbirth to the first years of life—for baby and mommy. To learn more about programs visit To make a donation to provide a Pack ’n Play, click on the “Support Healthy Start” button on the website.

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