By Chris Bavender
Carmel Fire Dept. Station 45 is now home to the state’s sixth Safe Haven Baby Box. The box is a place for newborns to be safely surrendered if a parent and/or guardian is unable to care for them. The station at 10701 N. College Ave. was chosen because of its easy access from several major roadways.
When a baby is placed in the box, an alarm sounds within two seconds and can be heard through the entire first floor of the station, said Tim Griffin, CFD public information officer.
“Dispatch will be immediately notified. They will call Station 45 by phone and dispatch the engine and ambulance to the box,” he said. “There will also be key members of CFD notified, along with the appropriate agencies. Firefighters will immediately remove and tend to the baby and any medical needs it may require. They will then transport the baby to the appropriate hospital.”
Indiana’s Safe Haven law, approved in 2000, allows an infant younger than 30 days old to be surrendered to law enforcement or health officials.
Safe Haven Baby Box is a nonprofit founded by firefighter/paramedic Monica Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant. She is committed to installing more Safe Haven Baby Boxes throughout Indiana.|
“I knew I needed to give women a final last option, so they could make a safe choice of surrendering instead of a dumpster where the newborn would certainly die,” Kelsey said. “I also wanted to make sure no mother ever felt like my birth mother did all those years ago, like she had no option. We can and must do a better job walking along women and giving them all their options.”
The box, installed Dec. 28, 2018, was dedicated in honor of Baby Amelia, an abandoned infant found deceased in Eagle Creek Park in 2014. Linda Znachko, of He Knows Your Name, provides funerals for abandoned babies. The organization provided one for Amelia.
“Amelia’s living legacy is defending the Safe Haven Law by having her footprint displayed on the logo of every Safe Haven Baby Box,” Znachko said. “Every mom will have to use her feet to bring her child to safety for adoption. I think seeing Amelia’s footprint will be empowering to a mom in crisis. In the past four years, I think it was Amelia’s legacy that paved the way for the acceptance of this law, and she put a name to a faceless problem that seemed impersonal.”
Kelsey said raising awareness about the Safe Haven law is necessary.
“As a firefighter in a small town, if a woman brought me a baby today to surrender under the Safe Haven law, chances are I know her, I know her parents and I probably know her brothers and sisters,” Kelsey said. “She isn’t going to hand me a baby knowing I could identify her. But would this same young girl from my town place her newborn in a baby box knowing that no one could identify her? The answer is yes. We guarantee ‘No Shame, No Blame and No Names’ with our boxes, and women appreciate this.”