The Vernon Parish Coroner's Office partnered with Calcasieu Parish and the Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) Safe Sleep Task Force in 2018 to bring safe sleeping classes to our area.
The Safe Sleep Task Force’s mission providing free education on safe sleeping practices.
Vernon Parish Coroner’s Office personnel have been trained specifically in the practice of infant death investigations. Its goal is to find out exactly what happened and what caused the baby’s death. Through scene investigations and a complete autopsy, we have found that many infant deaths are preventable.
Historically, infant deaths have been classified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS’s) deaths. SIDS is basically “the absence of a diagnosis," said Sharon Green, Chief Deputy Coroner of Vernon Parish.
The scene investigations have allowed coroners insights into the causes of death, and this investigation, along with an autopsy, helps us to determine exactly what happened.
The Safe Sleep program’s purpose is to warn new parents, grandparents and anyone who will listen about the dangers of infant sleeping.
Co-sleeping, rock and play sleepers, blankets, couch sleeping, are just a few of the dangers that we have found to cause babies to suffocate.
"Educating is our main goal, we provide a one hour class with real-life situations," said Green.
Louisiana has the highest death rate for infant mortality, and the safe sleep program intends to continue to slow this statistic.
"Babies are historically nose breathers, and it is very easy for that little nose and mouth to be covered (from a multitude of dangers) and babies get in a bind and cannot breathe," said Green. "Our mission is to keep our babies safe. Generally, we are out in the public promoting safe sleep, and although, with the pandemic, we are not giving our normal classes; however, we are still here for you.
The ABCs is safe sleeping are:
A ALONE- we want your baby alone for the safest sleeping alone
B BACK- put your baby on its back to sleep.
C CRIB- we want your baby in a crib, a pack and play crib." said Green
"The coroner's office provides this educational training because, as coroners, we would much rather teach classes and answer questions instead of having to respond to the scene. We have had several infant deaths in our Parish that were preventable. Before we began classes baby sleeping deaths were 4 times higher than they are currently. We want to educate parents so we can cut down on deaths" said Green.
Historically, it was that babies slept with blankets and stuffed animals and with parents, but as times have changed there has been more insight on how to keep babies safe, and knowing more allows us to do better.
New and expecting mothers, who attend the Safe Sleeping Class, receive a free safe sleeping pack and play to promote safe sleep.
"Whitney Laurent, the VPCO administrator and Safe Sleep Coordinator, is responsible for all of the planning and preparation for the classes, without her, it would not be possible," said Green.
Whitney can be reached at the office, Monday-Friday, from 0900-1500 and states that
"If you know anyone who is expecting a baby, or has a baby under 1 year of age, and is in need of a safe sleeping place for their baby, to please call for an appointment. I would be happy to speak with them one on one" said Whitney Laurent.
"Every quarter we try to have a class for new or expecting mothers. Every mother who attends the class receives important information to keep the baby safe as well as a free pack and play to promote safe sleep. We invite dads, grandparents, anyone who will be around the baby to attend our classes," said Laurent.
"The free pack and plays would not be possible with the generous donations from Daniel and Suzanne Rowe. They are grandparents who experienced the loss of their grandson, are using their tragic experience to help raise money for the pack and play cribs," said Green.
Classes are taught quarterly, and their next class is tentatively scheduled for July.
Follow the Vernon Parish Coroner's Office on Facebook for information on their next class, the VP Coroner's Office can be reached at 337-392-2349.