HomeNewsSafe Haven Baby Box unveiled at Jackson fire station

Safe Haven Baby Box unveiled at Jackson fire station

It was earlier this year when a newborn baby was found in a dumpster in Jackson whose life was saved by the actions of Jackson Police officer Tim McClain and other first responders.

A step was officially taken last week that would hopefully give the mother of any future babies in similar situations a safer way to separate themselves from their baby if they can’t or don’t want to raise them and keep them safe in the meantime.

The first Save Haven Baby Box in Jackson was installed earlier this year and was officially unveiled at a ceremony last week at Jackson Fire Station No. 2 on Westwood Avenue in LANA.

Mayor Scott Conger was on hand for the ceremony along with JFD Chief Don Friddle.

Christy Tillman with Jackson Medlink Communications and Jana Compton, formerly with JFD and now with Madison County Fire Department, were instrumental in getting a box installed in Jackson when they saw a possible need for it and its benefits.

“Every life is important. Every life deserves a chance,” Conger said at the ceremony. “So we’re glad to provide this safe option to keep these children safe in a dire moment in their lives.”

“It’s great to be able to put this officially into service today,” Friddle said. “[Tillman and Compton] presented this with so much passion last year that we knew we needed to do this, and we’re glad to have this in Jackson.”

Monica Kelsey is the creator of the program, and she was in Jackson for the event.

“It never gets old to get a call from a fire chief and they say, ‘Hey we’ve got a baby here,’” Kelsey said. “This is a last resort option – always has and always will be.

“We’d rather there be a parenting plan in place that the child can enter into once that child is born, but if that’s not a viable option, this is.”

The way a box works is fairly simple. If a person wants to anonymously give up a baby, they can do so by bringing the child to the fire station on Westwood and bringing it to the box. It’s been installed in the wall facing the department’s main parking lot to the east.

The person can open the box, which opens to a spacious box with plenty of room for a newborn infant human. There’s compartment provided that looks similar to a baby bed in a hospital NICU to place the child in. The parent then places the child into the box, where the tiny human will be set in a ventilated box that will be at the same temperature as the firehouse inside.

“So there are no worries of the baby getting too cold or too hot or running out of oxygen while he or she is in here,” Kelsey said.

The surrendering adult will then lock the box, and when that happens, a 60-second timer will start, giving the adult a minute to get away from the box for the purposes of anonymity. After the 60 seconds are done, an alarm will go off within the JFD and other first responder systems alerting them to the placement of a baby in the box.

If a firefighter is in the station, the baby will immediately be taken out and transported to a local hospital. If Station 2 happens to be empty because they’re out on a call, the alarm will go out to other first responders in the area so that someone is in the building getting the baby out of the box and to a local hospital in less than four minutes.

The box was the second to be installed in the state of Tennessee, with Knoxville getting one earlier this year and having its first baby dropped off 90 days afterward.

The third one in the state of Tennessee will also be in Jackson.

That’s because Adam Dooley, the senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church, was present at the ceremony to pray a blessing over the box and any families that may feel the need to use it.

During the ceremony, Conger mentioned Dooley had called him a few days earlier to discuss Conger’s overall vision or the boxes, which is to have one installed in every JFD station.

Dooley announced that Englewood will fund the installation of another box, this one in JFD Station 3 on Roosevelt Parkway.

“We believe that all lives are sacred because we’re all created in the image of God,” Dooley said. “So anything we can do as a church to help support the preservation of life, we want to do, so we’re glad to be a part of this.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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