Youths attend Safe Sitter workshop

Patti Carpenter

Eleven youths can call themselves “safe sitters” now after attending several hours of training on Saturday at North Big Horn Hospital. Safe Sitter is a comprehensive babysitting training program created by Dr. Patricia A. Keener, a nationally recognized board certified pediatrician. The goal of the program is to make youths “better sitters today and better parents tomorrow.” Organizers of the program claim more than 150 documented cases of lives saved by graduates of the program.

Keener created the program in response to a tragedy involving the accidental death of a young child while in the care of a babysitter untrained to deal with a somewhat common emergency. The course has been in existence for nearly 40 years. North Big Horn Hospital has offered the course for the last several years. 

The course was taught on Saturday by Nick Lewis and Hiedi Christensen. Lewis said the program prepares young babysitters for medical emergencies by teaching them lifesaving procedures to protect the children in their care and themselves during their babysitting assignments.

In the workshop, youths are taught the latest guidelines of the American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics in a curriculum that includes CPR, choking rescue and first aid techniques. The idea is to provide the young babysitters with enough information and basic skills to deal with many different medical emergencies.

They are also taught techniques to ensure their own safety, like having a special code word to alert their parents when they feel uncomfortable or may be in danger, knowing the address they are at and how to communicate with a 911 operator. And, since babysitting is a business, the youths are also taught about the importance of reliability and professionalism.

“Hiring a babysitter who has been through the program is way safer than someone who hasn’t been through the program,” said Lewis.

The course is held every summer and occasionally during Christmas break. Up to 16 youths receive the training during each session. The course is open to both boys and girls ages 11 and older.

“The program is well-received by the participants,” said Lewis. “They interact well throughout the course, and it’s obvious they want to be there.”

Students who became certified this time around were Kaden Waltjen, Jillian Weinand, Finnley Weinand, Daizy Weinand, Sara Wood, Kelce Winterholler, Presli Moss, Tianna Christiansen, TaiLyn Walbeck, Chevelle Banks and Macee Winterholler.

All 11 youths who completed the course received special certificates upon completion of the course.