Ind. city installs county's 1st Safe Haven baby box at fire station

The box's sensor sets off an alarm in the station prompting personnel to immediately evaluate and render care to the infant


By Gus Pearcy
The Lebanon Reporter, Ind.

LEBANON, Ind. — Lebanon has become the first city in Boone County to install a Safe Haven Baby Box at Station 11 at 975 Lasley Drive. It is the 44th box to be installed in Indiana.

Indiana's Safe Haven law, adopted in 2000, allows distressed and overwhelmed parents to give up their infant if it is less than 30 days old. If the baby has not been abused, the child may be given up anonymously without fear of legal problems. Baby boxes offer a safe way to give up the child.

The box is on the west side of the building, where Lt. Jason Adams said there are no cameras.

"It's on the side we don't go to as often," Adams said. "That was purposefully done. If someone decides to surrender an infant there, they can do it anonymously."

The box is located on the side where the truck bays are. When a baby is placed in the box, a series of events are triggered.

"There's a bassinet in there and it has a sensor," Adams said. "Once something is placed in that bassinet, along with the door being opened and closed, it's tied into the building alarm system. It triggers kind of like a fire alarm.

"It goes through the alarm system so that dispatch is contacted," Adams added. "We're contacted. It's still a fairly quick alert for us but it allows anyone who is surrendering that infant to do so with enough time to leave."

Adams added the box locks from the outside so the parent cannot change their mind and no one else can take the baby.

Firefighters then respond to ensure the baby's well-being, Adams said. The first firefighter who responds stays with the infant until it is registered at the hospital.

"We're going to start basic EMS care for it," Adams said. "Just checking to make sure blood pressure, heart rate, stuff like that looks good and making sure there are no injuries."

The hospital alerts the state's Child Protective Services to find a caregiver for the infant.

Officials say no information is required to be left with the infant, but any information that can be helpful to the caregiver is appreciated, such as date of birth, race, parent medical history or child's health history.

There won't be any signs apart from the installation, but Adams said the box will be listed on the Safe Haven Baby Box website at shbb.org. There is also a hotline to give the parent a trained professional to speak to at 1-866-992-2291.

Adams said the firefighters hope it is never used, but are glad it is in place. With the location of the box so close to Interstate 65, parents may drive to the Lebanon location to avoid being recognized locally, he added. So it could get used frequently.

"We don't want that to happen," Adams said. "But it is in location that if it needs to be used, it can be done so pretty easily."

The final cost to install the box is between $15,000 and $16,000. All of the money was donated, as well as labor to install the box. Adams said large donations came from Boone County REMC's Operation Round Up, Tim Toole, The St Joseph's chapter of the Knights of Columbus and Lebanon Eagles Lodge. Vickrey Remodeling provided the installation, Irving Materials Inc. donated the concrete and Mulhaupts Alarm installed the alarm portion.

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(c)2020 The Lebanon Reporter (Lebanon, Ind.)

 

Safe Haven Baby Box Dedication

Posted by City of Lebanon Fire Department on Friday, October 16, 2020

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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