ROCKY RIVER, OH (WOIO) - The infant mortality rate in Cuyahoga County rivals that of some third world countries.
That's why one hospital system has launched a new program to combat infant deaths by putting first responders on the front lines.
It's called DOSE: Direct On Scene Education and it's one of a kind in the state of Ohio.
"It's the first in this area, no one's really tried this technique," said Jennifer Walker with University Hospitals Rainbow Injury Prevention Center.
The UH EMS Training & Disaster Preparedness Institute is training emergency responders and firefighters to educate parents on how to create safe sleeping environments for their babies.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, the Buckeye State ranks 45th out of 50 states in infant mortality, meaning nearly seven babies per 1,000 die before they turn one.
Chief Aaron Leonard of the Rocky River Fire Department says first responders are in a unique position to educate because they are already in the home.
"We go to people's homes for a variety of reasons whether it be a fire alarm, medical call, gas leaks, we go. They have CO detectors go off," he said.
Moving forward, they will be equipped with these "Safe Sleep Survival Kits" and actually show parents what to do.
The program won't cost the departments much money but will give first responders better peace of mind.
"Infant calls cause the stress to go up high on every first responder there is. Nobody likes to see a child in any distress or trouble," said Chief Leonard.