CHICAGO (CBS) — For the second time in five months, a newborn has been left in a Safe Haven baby box in Michigan City, Indiana.
Volunteer firefighter Lt. Chuck Koehler was heading to the grocery store shortly after 7 p.m., when he got the page for a medical alarm from the Safe Haven Baby Box at the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Koehler got to the fire department within 30 seconds, and heard a baby crying. He opened the box and checked the baby, then waited for paramedics to arrive.
“You want every child to be born, grow up with their parents, but when that cannot happen for whatever reason, this is a wonderful alternative,” he said.
Firefighters named the baby Grace.
Monica Kelsey, founder of the Safe Haven Baby Box program said she knows it wasn’t an easy decision for the mother.
“I want to thank the mom for doing the right thing, and having the courage to find a safe place for her newborn, and surrendering it under the Safe Haven law,” she said.
The baby’s umbilical cord was still attached, and was taken to a nearby hospital. The mother did call a 24-hour Safe Haven hotline to explore her options.
The Coolspring fire station is one of two in the nation with a Safe Haven Baby Box. It was installed about two years ago , as an expansion of the state’s Safe Haven law allowing mothers to give up newborns by dropping them off at hospitals, police stations, and firehouses.
The padded climate-controlled boxes allow mothers to safely surrender their newborns without having to look someone in the eye.
Once someone opens the door to a baby box, it triggers a silent alarm, and sends out a 911 call. Once the door is shut again, the baby box is locked until firefighters and paramedics arrive on the scene.
Indiana state law allows parents to give up an unwanted infant anonymously, without any criminal charges, if they surrender the child to a hospital emergency room, fire station, or police station within 30 days of birth.
Since it was installed, the baby box at the Coolspring fire staiton has been used twice.
Last November, a baby girl was left in the box. Firefighters named her Hope, and she was adopted a few days before Christmas.
Kelsey said she is pushing to get more of the boxes installed across the country. The next box will be installed in Ohio on April 26.