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A baby was placed in a “Safe Haven” box in Tennessee just a half hour after the baby was born early Saturday morning.
The box was installed in Knoxville by the city’s fire department back in February.
Three firefighter crew members responded to the alarm after it was set off shortly after midnight on Saturday.
The firefighters found an uninjured baby boy inside, who appeared to be about 30 minutes old. They called an ambulance to take the baby to the hospital.
The box is located at Fire Department Station 17 on Western Avenue in Knoxville.
Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wilbanks said they are glad the box did some good within three months of it being installed.
“The whole purpose of this box is to be a resource for our community, that a mother or a parent that is in crisis and doesn’t know what to do with a child, has a place to go,” Wilbanks said.
“It may sound a little bit hard to say, but we don’t want them putting the child in the dumpster, we would much rather them place the child in this box where it’s safe and has an opportunity,” the assistant fire chief said.
The box is a safe place for the child and also contains a bag with information about resources for the parent that the parent can take with them, he said. The box, which is weight sensitive and has a magnetic, automatic lock that locks when a baby is placed inside, also helps the parent stay anonymous since it takes a minute for the station to be alerted that someone has placed something in the box.
Wilbanks said that this “gives the person time to leave the fire station without us knowing who they were.”
“Once the baby’s placed in the box, it’s safe inside of a bassinet, the box is heated to roughly 85 degrees, and then within a few minutes, the station is alerted through our alarm system that there is a baby in the box,” Wilbanks said.
So far the Knoxville baby box is the only one in Tennessee, but the assistant fire chief said more fire departments across Tennessee are considering installing “Safe Haven” boxes as well.
The Rural Metro Fire Department in Knox County will soon install one in that area. Another baby box will reportedly be installed in Jackson, Tennessee, as well.
Earlier this year, police found an abandoned newborn in a dumpster in Jackson.
The “Safe Haven” boxes in Tennessee are fully paid for by The Craig Foundation and do not cost Knoxville residents any money.
There are 135 “Safe Haven” baby boxes across the country. About 25 babies have been placed in these boxes since 2015.
Tennessee law gives mothers two weeks to surrender unharmed babies at designated places like hospitals and fire stations without fear of prosecution. Then, parents have thirty days to reconsider their decision to legally abandon their baby.
About 80 children were surrendered under that law between 2001 and 2015, the state says.