Safely and anonymously surrender healthy infants with Safe Haven Baby Box at Decatur Township Fire Department No. 74 starting July 1, 2018.
Ebony Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Carmel Fire Department on Friday unveiled its first Safe Haven Baby Box, a device people can safely and anonymously use to surrender healthy infants without fear of prosecution.
The new addition, at Douglas Callahan Fire Station 45, 10701 N. College Ave., marks Indiana’s sixth Safe Haven box. That includes one installed this summer in Indianapolis, at a Decatur Township fire station that received its first abandoned infant in July.
Carmel’s box was dedicated in the honor of “Baby Amelia,” an abandoned infant found deceased under a tree branch at Eagle Creek Park in 2014, according to Carmel Fire Department spokesman Tim Griffin. Friday is the date officials think would have been her birthday, he said.
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The decision to place the box at Carmel Station 45 was heavily influenced by its location, Griffin said. The station, near 106th Street and College Avenue, is close to I-465and major thoroughfares like Meridian Street, Keystone Avenue and Michigan Road.
Indiana’s Safe Haven Law, which passed in 2000, allows a person to surrender a healthy infant under 30 days of age to law enforcement or health officials. This summer, an expansion of the law went into effect that allowed the drop-offs to be anonymous and added protections for EMS providers who are given a sick infant, should the baby die in their care.
That was due in part to the fact that many women who would otherwise surrender their child don’t want to be identified, a concern these boxes address, said Monica Kelsey, a firefighter with the Woodburn (Ind.)Fire Department and founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
According to multiple state and national safe-haven advocacy organizations, more than 3,600 babies have been safely surrendered to safe havens across the country.
Kelsey has been working since 2013 to develop and pass legislation in various states for baby box installation. Indiana’s first two were installed in 2016, and the first babies were dropped off in the boxes in 2017. Since the installation of the first boxes, there have been no reports of deceased abandoned infants in the state, Kelsey said.
“So, you’ve got to look at what we’ve done to accomplish this, and it’s pretty clear what we’re doing is working,” she said.
In many cases, however, infants are found abandoned just outside the safe-haven location.
“It’s pretty obvious that these people who are going to these safe-haven locations know that it’s a safe-haven location, they just don’t want to do that final step of the face-to-face interaction,” she said.
One way Safe Haven Baby Boxes aim to reduce infant deaths involves a silent alarm that alerts emergency personnel within 30 seconds of the baby being placed in the box.
While every state has a safe haven law on the books, three — Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — allow Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Kelsey said. Just this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill to allow such boxes, saying it wouldn’t be appropriate for children to be placed in a device instead of being handed over by their mother or guardian.
The box at Carmel Station 45 is ready if needed, Griffin said.
“We hope that it’s never used,” he said, “but we’re so grateful for the resources we’ve been given to be able to install one, so that if it is needed for a mother, that it can be there for her and that child.”
Call IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at 317-444-6156. Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.
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