BOISE -- Ada County Paramedics is being awarded at a national convention this month for their campaign to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS).
They are teaching the public about the ABC's of safe sleep environments for babies, which stand for: alone, on their back, in their own crib.
Ada County Paramedics is educating people about how they can use that acronym to prevent sleep-related SIDS, which is a form of death that can't be explained, and SUIDS, which can be attributed to suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment or disease.
"It is the worst nightmare that a parent can have," Ada County Paramedics Battalion Chief Bart Buckendorf said, "and we have to tell them this is indeed your worst nightmare."
Buckendorf has been with Ada County Paramedics for 31 years. Tragically, he has responded to quite a few sudden infant deaths.
"I saw some that I believed were because the baby was in an unsafe sleep environment," he said.
He says they were in a bed with their parents, in a crib with a regular-sized quilt, or in a crib with too many stuffed animals - causing them to be smothered and suffocate.
"The idea is just the baby... alone, nothing else in the crib with them, they're on their back and they're in their own crib," Buckendorf added. "No blankets, no pillows, no stuffed animals. Nothing except the baby in that crib."
Buckendorf launched the "ABC's of Safe Sleep Campaign" under recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Their main effort has been putting signs on the back of ambulances.
"So when we are stopped at a light, people behind us can read it and [it would] make them think," Buckendorf added.
It did just that for Kevin Young, managing partner of Young Hearts Education.
"It really struck a note with me with my experience from my daughter passing about 25 years ago," Young told KTVB.
Seeing the sign on the back of an Ada County Paramedics rig sparked his desire to implement SIDS education and the ABC's of safe sleep into his own CPR, first aid, basic life support, and emergency medical response training.
"When she did pass they classified it as SIDS, though later we did find out that it was caused due to extreme premature birth."
Young was able to turn his deep, devastating loss into something beneficial for the community.
"It happened right in front of everybody at work. It wasn't something that just happened at home and it happened in a car seat," Young added.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data shows nine SIDS deaths were reported in Idaho in 2015; 14 were reported the year before, 15 were reported in 2013 and 10 were reported in 2012.
"You've got to be really aware of the sleeping situation so you can reduce the risk - if not completely prevent the risk - of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," Young said. "As a parent who has lost a child, one is too many,"
Ada County Paramedics is receiving the award from Epic Medics at an EMS conference in Salt Lake City the last weekend of February. They will also be presenting the "ABCs of Safe Infant Sleep" to agencies from all over the nation, discussing how to prevent deaths from suffocation or a compromised airway.