Published 3:59 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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GATESVILLE – After months of planning and raising the necessary funds, the effort to place a Safe Haven Baby Box at the Gates County Rescue Squad / Station 80 building has successfully reached a conclusion.

A blessing ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Rescue & EMS building, located at 16 HWY 158 East near Gates County High School.

The project has been spearheaded by EMS Chief Stormy Butts, the Rescue and EMS Board of Directors, Pastor Kyle Truman of Hope Fellowship Church, and many others that have been a part of seeing this effort reach its goal.

The public is invited to attend the blessing ceremony.

The Safe Haven Baby Box is a state-of-the-art device. It legally permits a mother in crisis to safely, securely, and anonymously surrender her unwanted newborn.

The Baby Box is a climate-controlled safety device provided under a state’s Safe Haven Law. The installation of the box occurs on the exterior wall of a firehouse, EMS agency, or hospital.

Testing occurs at every stage of the box installation, including design, development, and deployment. It features multiple alarms in the device which alert first responders that a baby has been surrendered. The box’s alarms are tested weekly to ensure there will be no failures. The staff at Gates County EMS will be trained on how the device operates.

When a baby is dropped off, the parent opens the exterior door to the Baby Box, which triggers a silent alarm, and sends a call to 911 Dispatch. The infant is placed in a medical bassinet that stays in the box at all times. A sensor located on the inside of the box triggers a second 911 Dispatch call. The exterior door automatically locks upon placement of a newborn.

Within five minutes, the infant will be rescued by first responders. An interior door allows a staff member to secure the surrendered newborn from inside the designated building. Evaluation of the infant begins immediately, including a medical examination at the hospital. After the child is given a clean bill of health at the hospital, the child will go into the custody of the local foster care system.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes staff travels to fire stations and hospitals to train first responders on the Safe Haven Law, how to handle safe surrenders and their response to mothers in crisis.

In North Carolina, the law allows a baby no more than 30 days old to be surrendered, providing a safe alternative for a parent who, in a crisis or in desperation, may physically abandon or harm their child.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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