Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital received an early Christmas gift from the American Heart Association – with the delivery of CPR Anytime kits.

The 450 Infant CPR Anytime kits, valued at $17,325, are the American Heart Association’s way of reinvesting in Central Louisiana. for parents of babies in the RWCH newborn intensive care unit.

“When our NICU patients leave us, they’ve often been here with us for weeks and months,” said Karen Z. Hathorn, RN, MSN, Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital director. “We become quite attached to our babies and to their families. So it’s very important to us that our parents leave here with a good understanding of basic life support in case of an emergency.”

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. It can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone – even in young people and babies. Survival depends on immediate CPR.

Training is even more important when you realize that infants requiring care in the NICU often have conditions that increase the risk of cardiorespiratory arrest after discharge. Making sure that families receive proper CPR training and the opportunity to practice their skills at home with other family members can improve the chain of survival for this high-risk and high-need group.

“These kits give our staff peace of mind,” Hathorn said. “In the past, we’ve sent parents home with training at the bedside, handouts and discharge instructions. This kit includes a small inflatable mannequin, a DVD with step-by-step videos and booklets. So even if they don’t remember what we teach them here, they can go over it again once they go home – and teach other family members as well.”

An estimated 1,125 Central Louisiana residents will learn CPR from these kits over the next year. Eighty percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in private or residential settings. Statistically speaking, if called on to give CPR in an emergency, it will likely be to save the life of a loved one; a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.

“Data shows that the Infant CPR Anytime Kit has become the preferred standardized training methods for patients of high-risk babies in facilities across the nation,” said Natalie David, Regional Director, American Heart Association. “Our vision is for all hospitals across the nation to implement this innovative approach.”