When parents hire a nanny to take care of their children, many take the time to check out the caregiver: Does she drive? Does she speak English? Will she play with the kids?
They may not ask the more probing questions: Is she certified in CPR? Will she call 911 immediately in case of emergency? Does she know the Heimlich maneuver?
A Miami nonprofit organization aims to train care-givers -- in Spanish or English -- in how to handle life-threatening emergencies.
The Oscar Project is named for Oscar Chandler, a bright-eyed, curious
TO LEARN MORETo register for classes, learn more about The Oscar Project or make a donation, call Susan Linning at 305-205-3315, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at http://www.oscarproject.org/.
23-month-old Coconut Grove boy who fell into an unfenced pool on Feb. 13, 2007. He died of complications two weeks later at Miami Children's Hospital.
Oscar's nanny was feeding his little brother at the time of the accident and didn't see him slip out of the house and into the pool.
"Oscar was a very special kid, a lot of people felt very connected to him even though he was a toddler," said his mother, Amanda Chandler.
Chandler finds some consolation in The Oscar Project, which was founded by her former neighbor, Susan Linning, whose daughter was a playmate of Oscar's.
While Chandler said training for her nanny wouldn't have saved Oscar's life, the tragedy made Linning realize the need for child-care givers to be prepared for emergencies.
Many nanny-placement firms do provide CPR and other training for those they refer. But Linning found that for parents trying to hire nannies on their own, there weren't many resources available in Spanish.
"I invited 12 nannies in my neighborhood to come to my home to learn CPR," Linning said. "But no one could come to train them; no one was prepared to teach in Spanish. Miami Children's Hospital was moved by Oscar's situation and wanted to help us, so they sent someone."
Since then, Miami Children's Hospital has partnered with The Oscar Project, holding classes in its auditorium and at other venues. The fee for the seven-hour training is $160 and includes a take-home reference guide, one-on-one training, all the materials, lunch, refreshments, a gift bag and a certificate valid for two years.
About 80 people -- both nannies and parents -- have been trained through the project.
Linning has expanded the training to include other life-threatening situations, not just drownings, and to include drownings that may occur in buckets of water or the bathtub, not just a pool. Injury prevention is a big part of the course and includes such suggestions as moving cribs away from windows.
The training includes infant and child CPR, pool and water safety, infant and child-choking maneuvers, injury prevention, first aid, basic child care, kitchen and bathroom safety, outdoor safety, poison control and emergency management.
She also tells nannies the importance of calling 911 because some nannies who come from
other countries are not used to calling the authorities for help and may be afraid to.
"We tell them that it is a crime if they don't call 911," Linning said.
Adriana Abraham, a nanny who cares for two kids, became CPR-certified through the organization's training; her employer paid the class fee.
"It's very important because people sometimes think they know everything, but in a blink of an eye, children can invent all kinds of things," said Abraham, who is from Nicaragua and speaks Spanish. "I feel I am more prepared, not more confident, but prepared."
She added that she likely would have never had CPR training if it weren't for the class.
Nannies should only take care of children, not clean, at the same time, Abraham said, adding that ID badges should be made for those who have gone through the training and employers should request them.
For Chandler, moving on has not been easy, but she said her second child, Oliver, gave her the strength. She is now expecting her third child, a girl. And she said The Oscar Project has "restored my faith in people."
‘‘I will never forget what Susan has done."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of deaths among children age 1 to 4 are the result of drowning, and South Florida has the highest drowning rate in the nation. Also, for every drowning, there are five near-drownings that may result in permanent brain damage.
These deaths and accidents are preventable, Linning said.
"Our children rely on adults to protect them and we are failing them."
- Don't leave a bucket of water on the floor. In many drownings of kids under age 1, the culprit is a bucket, bathtub or toilet. The tots are curious, top heavy and do not have the upper bodystrength to pull themselves out.
- Cook on back burners whenever possible to avoid little fingers, hands, even faces, getting burned. A boiling pot of water can scar their face.
- When in doubt, call 911. It's better to be safe than sorry.
- Cover power outlets so kids can't stick their fingers or anything else in them.
- Have safety controls on doorknobs so children can't let themselves out of the house.
- If you own a pool, put up a pool fence, and install alarms on door and windows.
- Learn how to swim so you can help a child in the water.