graduate Safe Sitter course
St. Mary's Hospital recently sponsored a two day Safe Sitter course which was taught by Brenda Kaschmitter and Cheri Holthaus. Twelve students from the Cottonwood area attended and passed the course. The class began with fourteen students but unfortunately two of the students ended up going home the morning of the second day due to illness.
Safe Sitter began because of a tragedy that occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1980. On a beautiful spring day, an 18 month-old little girl died in a hospital emergency room-her death was caused by choking on food from her breakfast. The little girl's mother was a nurse, and she knew exactly what to do if her child choked, but the mother was at work in the hospital. The adult babysitter did not know how to handle the emergency. Dr. Patricia Keener, the doctor who cared for the toddler in the emergency room, was saddened by the child's death-especially since she knew and worked with the child's mother. Dr. Keener knew that the child's death could have been prevented if the babysitter had known how to rescue a choking child. On the very day the child died, Dr. Keener decided she would create a class for babysitters on how to handle children's emergencies. She decided to offer her class to young babysitters so that they could begin babysitting with good habits from the beginning. Dr. Keener thought her first class two weeks later at her children's school. The class was a hit and has continued to be a success. Safe Sitter has spread in the years since 1980 from Indiana to all fifty states and Canada, England, and Israel. There are over 200,000 Safe Sitter graduates.
During the Safe Sitter class the students learned many babysitting skills; including CPR, choking rescue skills, safety for the babysitter, first aid, behavior management, plus many other skills.
The parents of the Safe Sitters are also asked to follow some of the Safe Sitter rules; first they must make sure they feel their child is mature enough to babysit and to take on the responsibility of someone else’s child. Even though their child has gone through and passed the Safe Sitter course only a parent really knows their own child’s capabilities. Parents need to know who their child is babysitting for and make sure they have the address of where they are sitting. Parents must also be aware of the safety signal that Safe Sitters are taught, “I’m ready to be picked up now.” The Safe Sitter will use this signal if they feel it is not safe for them to get in the car with the employer for whatever reason.
Locally St. Mary's Hospital joined the program in 1993 and has had over 225 students graduate from the program. “We are actually teaching some of the children of past Safe Sitter graduates; it is pretty awesome to know that we are teaching a second generation of Safe Sitters,” commented Holthaus. “I also know that there are many parents in the area who will only hire babysitters who have gone through this program.”
At the end of each class, the students are asked to complete an evaluation form; following are a few of the remarks.
I think Safe Sitter should… "Do exactly what they are doing and keep going forever.”
I liked best……"Learning how to save an innocent child’s life."
I also liked…"That I could learn but still have fun."
In addition, I want you to know that…"Safe Sitters was a lot of fun and I’m ready to babysit."
Recent graduates of the Safe Sitter course at St. Mary’s Hospital are shown. Photo by Shari Chaffee.