Sue’s tiny hats help save lives

Dominic Gething, Senior Paramedic, and University of Cumbria student (left), Susan Rhind and Dave Warrington, Senior Paramedic, with the new hat kits
Dominic Gething, Senior Paramedic, and University of Cumbria student (left), Susan Rhind and Dave Warrington, Senior Paramedic, with the new hat kits
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It’s hats off to paramedic Susan Rhind for her pioneering work to help save the lives of the region’s newborn babies.

Susan, who works for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and also lectures at the University of Cumbria, is the driving force behind a new initiative to have special hats for newborn babies made and included in the NWAS maternity kit.

The hats, which are packaged and meet infection prevention and control standards, are made by volunteers and can help prevent newborns getting hypothermia.

She said: “Current evidence-based practice is to assess the baby, dry them and then apply a hat and enable skin-to-skin contact with the mother, wrapping the baby and mother together.

“The priority after assessing the baby, is maintaining warmth to the baby, and whilst ambulance maternity packs may have the means to dry the baby (amongst the other medical components), currently not all maternity packs contain hats.”

Susan teaches on paramedic programmes at the university and one of the modules looks at issues surrounding out of hospital births and obstetric emergencies. She said: “Operational guidelines for maternity emergencies have recently been updated, and as chance would have it, I have also recently helped a mother deliver her baby, in a car on the side of a road."

Susan approached the ‘Blue Light Babies’ charity based in Teesside to see if it could provide hats.

There are now more than 1,000 people knitting hats, including tiny ones for pre-term babies plus blankets, donating them free of charge for use in emergency situations.

Susan is delighted at the knitters’ response and said: “This is the result of amazing collaboration between staff at the University of Cumbria, the North West Ambulance Service and Blue Light Babies, and we now have the means to improve conditions for out-of-hospital births, by reducing the risk of babies being taken to delivery suites suffering from inadvertent hypothermia. The logistics involved were incredible but everything has come together to produce a wonderful outcome."

She added: “A total of 3,500 hats are needed to supply the whole of the NWAS”

• NWAS serves Lancashire, Cumbria, Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.