Cribs for Kids’ National Public Safety Initiative
A career as a Police Officer, Firefighter, or EMT requires a certain type of person. It is difficult to fathom the selflessness and courage it would take to wake up each morning ready to put your life on the line for another, signing on to willingly face what others fear most. Our first responders do just that, and so much more. When a baby dies in an unsafe sleep environment, it is these very people that are first on the scene. The feelings of anguish and helplessness that they experience while responding to these calls are all consuming. We know these feelings all too well. When we learn of an infant that has passed this way, we can’t help but feel that we have failed in reaching that grieving parent on time with our message.
In desperately trying to spread our Safe Sleep message, we realized that we needed help. We needed a street team that could be in the right place at the right time. We knew just where to turn. Cribs for Kids’ Cops and Cribs program was born. Who better to be on the lookout for unsafe sleep environments in the community? We knew that Police Officers would be able to spot potential danger in homes long before social services might. The most logical solution was to team up with these heroes, to offer them the chance to prevent the unnecessary death of an infant and to empower them to change the fate of a family.
The Cops and Cribs program has since grown into The National Public Safety Initiative which includes helpers such as firefighters, EMS, coroners, and probation and parole officers. Our mission with this program is to educate these officials on safe sleep and to provide them with educational pamphlets and free cribs to hand out to families in need. We are so proud to be partnered locally with the Pittsburgh Police, Fire, EMS, and Probation and Parole Officers. Nine of Pittsburgh’s suburban communities are involved as well. We are thrilled to announce that the city of Philadelphia is now beginning training for all of their first responders. We have also successfully partnered with communities in Louisiana, Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, and Washington State.
The safe sleep message is easily spread while observing a need in people’s homes but it is also a relevant topic to approach while attending community events, conducting routine traffic stops, and even just coming across parents out with their infants in public. Officers are trained to approach the subject with compassion and to assure parents and caregivers that they are not in trouble for being unable to provide a safe sleep space. They view these opportunities only as a chance to provide a safe crib, and to educate the families on the fundamentals of safe sleep. They are there to offer their guidance and to prevent unnecessary tragedy.
We recently received this note from a firefighter who has gone through the program:
“We were scheduled to attend the Strawberry Festival at the Shadyside Presbyterian Church this evening. We brought two portable cribs with us in case we came across an opportunity to give them out. When we arrived, we found out that this community event was an annual fundraiser held each year to benefit the Sojourner House, an organization close to our station in East Liberty that helps mothers and their children in recovery. There were several women from the Sojourner House attending the event. After speaking with some of them we found that there were two women there that were in need of cribs, one of them 8 months pregnant. They filled out the forms and we helped them load the cribs in the van that transported them to the event.
A little while later, a representative from the church approached us and said that, after we had given out the cribs, they were eating dinner with the two women, and they were saying how grateful they were that we were there and had provided the cribs to them. She said that one of the women broke into tears and described how, before tonight, she didn’t know if she was going to be able to keep her child because she didn’t have a safe place for her to sleep. But now, since we had provided the crib, her daughter would be able to stay with her.
It is events like this one tonight that make your program so rewarding, knowing that we made such a difference in this person’s life. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. I thought that you would like to hear about this.”
Pittsburgh Firefighter, East Liberty Station
We were indeed thrilled to hear this story and have been touched by many more like it. It is such an honor to consider these brave men and women a part of our team. It truly does take a village, and we are grateful for ours.
Click here to learn more about becoming involved in our National Public Safety Initiative