Baby Box Success for Indiana Fire Department

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 3:48 PM EST
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Earlier this month, WAGM told you about about a UMFK Nursing Student who hopes to have safe haven baby boxes installed in Aroostook County. After concerns were raised regarding the safety and legitimacy of the boxes, WAGM reached out to a fire station who has had one installed for nearly 5 years. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.

“This program, from my perspective, closely aligns with why the fire service exists, which is to help human beings”

David Haboush is Chief of Carmel Fire Department in Carmel Indiana. Carmel received their baby box in 2018, and despite going several years without use, his department currently holds the record for the most babies surrendered via Safe Haven Baby Boxes nationwide.

“It’s a compartment inside of a wall of a fire house, police station or emergency room. It has an outside door that a person can walk up to and safely surrender their newborn.”

Renee Cropley is a UMFK Nursing Student hoping to bring Safe Haven Baby Boxes to Aroostook County. With the vast majority of Safe Haven Boxes positioned in Indiana and surrounding states, there are no Safe Haven Baby Boxes available in New England, meaning individuals looking to surrender a child must do it face to face under Maine’s Safe Haven Law, which has been on the books in some fashion since 2002. Concerns were raised by Caribou Fire Chief Scott Susi regarding the safety of the Baby Boxes based on information provided by the Safe Haven Baby Boxes non-profit. John Moriarty, Chief of Community Relations says since the installation of the box, the program has been very successful for their community.

“We’ve had 3 babies, the most of any baby box so far in the county. We’re very proud of that and very proud in the sense that all 3 babies are alive and well. One we know for sure has been adopted, the second one is in the process and the third one is with a foster family at this time, but they’re all alive an well and we’re very proud to have been a part of that.”

According to the chiefs, they have not had any cases of deceased abandoned infants in the state of Indiana since 2014 and attribute that to the abundance of Safe Haven Baby Boxes in their area. WAGM relayed concerns raised regarding the safety of the box in terms of FDA Approval and UL Testing for safety, and Haboush had this to say:

“The Safe Haven Baby Box is yet another doorway into the fire station. And when you come in and you ask firefighters to render care, they are going to give you their absolute best, they’re going to be professional and they are going to give you world class service. Our belief is that these are the youngest members of our community. So for me this whole concept of FDA, UL, at the end of the day I would rather somebody, ideally walk into the fire station, which has not happened, but the box is a safe alternative.”

The cost of acquiring a Safe Haven Baby Box is over 11 thousand and Cropley’s fund raising efforts are well short of that total so fa, it is unclear whether efforts to bring a Safe Haven Baby Box to Northern Maine will be successful or not.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8