The Knoxville, Tennessee fire department announced last Saturday that for the first time since its installation, the “Safe Haven Baby Box” at one of its fire stations was used.
The Knoxville Fire Department revealed on Facebook that a newborn boy, believed to be no more than half-hour old, had been left in the baby box at Fire Station 17 just after midnight on May 27.
The three-person crew on duty at the time was immediately alerted. The infant was retrieved from the box and an ambulance was called to take him to the hospital to be checked over.
The “Safe Haven Baby Box” was installed at Fire Station 17 in mid-February to provide an alternative for anonymous mothers in crisis. The device, which is available 24/7, had not been used until last weekend, the fire department said.
Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks told WATE that the “Safe Haven Baby Box” is a “resource” to ensure that a mother in crisis has somewhere to go when she does not know “what to do.”
Under Tennessee law, a parent can surrender a baby at a “designated” facility within the first two weeks after birth with no fear of prosecution and with “complete confidentiality,” so long as the child is unharmed.
Last August, the fire department received a Craig Fund grant from the East Tennessee Foundation to help finance the installation of the “Safe Haven Baby Box.”
When Fire Station 17’s device was installed in February, the fire department released a video to demonstrate how the baby box works.
With the device, which looks similar to an overnight deposit box at a bank, the mother simply pulls open the door and places the baby into the bassinet inside. The device then alerts the firefighters on duty who can retrieve the infant from inside the station. At no time does the mother have to interact with anyone inside the station, guaranteeing her confidentiality and anonymity.