CHICAGO (CBS) — A fire chief in Northwest Indiana says a baby is alive and healthy Wednesday because someone did the right thing and put the baby in a controversial “baby box” installed on the wall of a fire station.
Around 10:30 Tuesday night, an alarm sounded on the “Safe Haven baby box” installed in the wall of the unmanned Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire station.
Chief Mick Pawlik rushed there, figuring it was going to be another false alarm.
“To be honest with you, I had my jammies on, and my assistant chief called me and I said you can go back. I said ‘I’ll handle this one — it’s going to be a false trip,’” Pawlik said.
“I can see there’s something in the box and thought, oh boy, I’m thinking somebody put a raccoon or a cat or a dog or something in there.”
Pawlik saw an arm and opened the box. He looked into the face of a newborn, its umbilical cord still attached.
“I’m beyond myself now at this point, at a loss for words, I’m ecstatic,” the chief said. “It was a great thing. Very seldom do you call a fire department for anything good. Well this was a good call. A really good call.”
The chief had nothing but praise for the person who he says did the right thing.
Baby Boxes are installed in a wall of a fire station. When someone opens door, a 911 call immediately goes out. A 2nd alarm, another 911 call, goes off via a motion detector. A baby can be retrieved from the box from inside the fire station.
According to La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Captain Mike Kellems, this is the first time this particular baby box has been used.
There is no investigation from the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department because under the Indiana Safe Haven law, if the infant is left within 30 days and is found in good health, there are no legal repercussions against the mother.
A statement from Franciscan Health Michigan City said the baby is stable and in good condition.
“We commend the Fire Department for having installed the Safe Haven Box, and we will be installing a Safe Haven Box at our new hospital location when it opens in late 2018,” the hospital said in a statement.
Franciscan Health Michigan City is working with the Indiana Department of Children and Family Services for the placement of the baby.
While there is a push to get Safe Haven boxes nationwide by 2020, they need to be approved state by state. Ohio is planning to implement them in 2018, with Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia poised to pass legislation. Currently, there are only two in all of the U.S. Aside from the one in Northwest Indiana, the other is located in Woodburn, Indiana.
Founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Monica Kelsey, tells CBS 2 that she’ll eventually advocate for them in Illinois.