LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. — It was a big fight for the Coolspring Township Fire Department to get a Safe Haven Baby Box.
Many officials were against it, but on Tuesday night, they proved why it was needed when a baby was dropped off there for the first time, PIX11 News' sister station WGN reports.
The boxes are equipped with alarms that notify officials when a baby is placed inside. They are designed to be a warm and secure environment where a baby can stay safe until officials arrive.
It was about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when the box’s silent alarm went off and the fire chief’s pager buzzed.
The chief thought it might be a false alarm, which has happened before. He thought maybe someone put a cat or a dog in the heated box.
“So I open it up and that baby just looked me right in the eyes,” Chief Mick Pawlik recalled. “Now the baby is quiet, calm, checked her out real quick inside of the box.”
The girl -- they named her Baby Hope -- was maybe an hour old and still covered in blood.
“I don’t know what this girl went through. I have nothing but good things to say. It’s a win-win scenario,” Pawlik said.
There were not judgements at the fire station. That’s what the box is for. There are no cameras to see who put the child in. There won’t be an investigation to find the parents. No questions will be asked.
“I would really like to thank the mother who did this for doing the right thing. She stepped up to the plate and did the right thing. She turned the baby in to the Baby Box instead of us finding the baby in a ditch or woods. We hear so many horrible stories,” Assistant Chief Warren Smith said.
For a busy volunteer department that responds to nearly 1,200 calls annually, this one call made their year. They felt like proud papas.
“Until you’re a firefighter, cop, medic and see all the bad stuff that we see, I’m elated for once we see something good,” Pawlik said.
Baby Hope is at the hospital now and soon Indiana Child and Family Services will find her a home. Police said the infant appears healthy and in good condition.
People are already talking about adopting her.
There are only two Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the country, both of which are in Indiana. This was the first time someone has used it.
The box was installed through Safe Haven Baby Boxes, an organization that helps mothers in crisis surrender their babies with anonymity. They hope to expand the program to more locations.