The Gift of Life

A Bartlesville girl is being hailed as a hero for saving the life of her younger sister, thanks to actions she took after taking a baby-sitting course at Jane Phillips Medical Center. Presly Pinney, 11, didn’t want to give up part of her summer to take classes. But her mother, Renea Pinney was insistent that she learn some of the skills in the Safe Sitter program before taking care of her younger sister, Ava.

“When my mom told me I was going to a Safe Sitter class, I was like—why are you making me do this during my summer,” Presly Pinney said in a video interview from Safe Sitter, Inc. “I mean, it’s my summer time. I thought I got a break from school.”

According to Renea Pinney, who works overnights as a registered nurse in the Critical Care Unit at Jane Phillips Medical Center, soon after Presly took the course, she had to put those skills to the test.

“Three weeks after Presly took the Safe Sitter class, I was woken up by Presly and she told me that she had to use one of the things she learned in the class,” Renea Pinney said in the video.

Ava and Presly Pinney were eating a snack at the table and Ava began choking on some boiled eggs. Presly said in the video that she noticed Ava was turning pale and tried to drink some water, when she started making funny noises.

“I was scared because I couldn’t breathe, and I felt kind of dizzy,” Ava Pinney said in the video.

Presly said she put her training to use by immediately beginning what was once known as the Heimlich maneuver—now more commonly called a choking rescue procedure. The Heimlich maneuver is named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who first described the procedure in 1974. Medical professionals say the maneuver is mostly used for choking adults, and has been modified slightly for choking children and babies. Presly learned the choking rescue procedure in a Safe Sitter class over the summer, one of the key skills that Julie Blount, local coordinator of the Safe Sitter program, said is taught in daylong classes held over the summer at JPMC.

Blount said she took over the baby-sitting classes at the hospital in 2013. When she started looking at the material the hospital had for babysitting, Blount said the program appeared outdated. She started looking for a more modern approach to teaching babysitting skills. After a search, she found Safe Sitter and felt that the program was a good fit for the non-profit hospital.

According to Jennifer Seward, director of marketing communications for Safe Sitter, Inc., the program was founded in 1980 by Dr. Patricia Keener, a pediatrician in the Indianapolis area, after a colleague’s 18-month-old choked to death while under a sitter’s care. Since then, the program has been established in over 850 sites across the nation — including JPMC.

Blount started the program locally in June 2013. She said there have been 13 classes held at the hospital over the summer months since then. Blount tailors the classes for ages 11 to 14. A team of instructors, who all work for Jane Phillips Medical Center, teach the classes for both boys and girls who want to become better baby sitters. Blount said, on average, 10 to 12 teenagers take the day-long class each time they are held, but the program can accommodate up to 16 students. There is no cost for participants, as the hospital foots the bill for materials and instruction. Besides the class, each participant also receives a special book that shows baby sitters some of the essences of child care. The book and classroom course covers topics ranging from business management, success, child care essentials, baby-sitter safety, basic first aid, and most importantly—choking care for infants and children.

“After hearing about Presly and Ava, it just really validates the program we have here,” Blount told the Examiner-Enterprise. “It shows what we are teaching has value, has merit. These kids are learning and applying what they learn in class. I am very proud of Presly.”

Blount is planning the upcoming courses for the summer. She said the 2016 classes are currently scheduled for June 17 and 24, and July 15 and 29. Classes are held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the students get free snacks and a lunch. Additional information about JPMC’s Safe Sitter classes is available by contacting Blount in the family services department at the hospital or by calling 918-331-1148.

(Editor’s Note: This article by Nathan Thompson from the 11/30/15 edition of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise is reprinted with permission.)


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