James Polson keeps the letter tucked away as a treasured memento.
The Children's Heart Center administrator, a nurse practitioner, had taught infant CPR to parents of children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). One day, he got a letter from one of those families, thanking him for the lesson that saved their child's life.
“That's why this gift is so important,” he said of the American Heart Association's donation of 1,150 Infant CPR Anytime Kits. Valued at $44,275, the gift should supply a year's worth of families whose children have been served by the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), PICU, special care nursery and labor and delivery at UMMC.
American Heart Association infant CPR kits include an inflatable infant manikin, an instructional DVD and informational brochures.
About the size of a shoebox, the kits contain an infant-sized inflatable manikin, a 22-minute training DVD and two fold-out quick-reference CPR skills reminders.
“The families have been getting instruction and hand-outs in CPR class,” Polson said, “but with the kits, they can use them during the class before they go home with their babies, and then refresh their memories by watching the DVD and reading the information.”
Said Fran Malenzi, director of newborn services: “Even more valuable is the ability to share the skills they learned in class with other family members when they get home.”
When it comes to learning about CPR, he said, “you hope you never have to use it, but knowing how to respond gives you confidence.”
Polson holds the letter from parents whose child was saved by lessons learned in his infant CPR class.
That's what the letter's author wrote. The family's child, at about 16 months of age, had a blocked airway and was blue and lifeless.
“Everything seemed to be going wrong, but in the midst of the chaos, the '2 breaths, 30 compressions' came back to me, clear as a bell. It took a good 5 or 6 cycles to get him breathing again, but I know it saved his life that day,” the letter reads.
“I want this to build an army of 1,150-plus people who have the knowledge and confidence to save a life,” Polson said. “Everyone who takes an infant CPR class and takes a kit home, and all the people they share that knowledge with such as other family members and caregivers, will be out in the community, in parks, on ballfields, out shopping, and they will be prepared to save babies' lives.”
The idea, said Jennifer Hopping, vice president of the American Heart Association, is for two or more people to be trained per kit.
Erin Jones, a registered nurse who teaches infant CPR to parents of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit born at 37 weeks or younger, said the thought of needing to use CPR on their baby is daunting for parents. “Parents are nervous about it,” she said, “but they'll at least see it in class, and with the American Heart Association kits, they can go home and practice.”
The American Heart Association is donating about a year's supply of infant CPR kits to UMMC to use in training parents in classes. Showing a few of the more than 1,100 kits are, from left, American Heart Association Community Health Director Rosa Wilson, nurses Erin Jones, Ashley Stegall, Amanda Bourne, Billy Needham and Emily Thompson, and Jennifer Hopping, vice president of the Greater Southeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association.
Mother Sharon Bell was happy to take an infant CPR kit home with her to Oxford. “I want to share this with my family so we all know what to do,” she said.
Having the skills to act quickly can be the difference between life and death, Hopping said. “We know for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent, so every second counts.”
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, unintentional choking and suffocation are the leading cause of all injury deaths of children younger than 12 months.
“We're grateful to the American Heart Association for this gift,” Polson said. “We know it will result in children's lives saved.”