The fire department says that the “Baby Box Alert” happened at 12:19 a.m. at Knoxville Fire Department Station 17, located at 4804 Western Avenue. Three crew members responded immediately and found a healthy baby boy in the Baby Box, according to the release.
Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks said the baby is believed to have been less than 30 minutes old when he was placed in the box. The baby was not injured, and he was quickly removed from the box to be evaluated. The crew called for an ambulance to take the child to the hospital, the fire department said.
The Safe Haven Baby Box was installed on February 17 with funding assistance from the Craig Foundation. KFD says not only is this the first Baby Box in Tennessee, it is the first time it was used since it was installed.
KFD adds that the resource at Station 17 is entirely anonymous and is available for any parent who needs a place to turn in a time of crisis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tennessee’s Safe Haven Law, which took effect in 2001, allows parents of newborns to surrender unharmed babies to designated places within two weeks of their birth without fear of being prosecuted.
Throughout the state, there are more than 1,000 Safe Haven designations, including hospitals, police stations, and fire departments, but the Baby Box gives parents the option to surrender their baby anonymously.
The instructions to use the box are simple and printed above the box. They say all a parent needs to do is open the door to the box, place the baby inside the bassinet inside, and close the door which engages the lock. After this, KFD spokesperson Mark Wilbanks explains in a video, firefighters at the station are alerted and respond within minutes. Those firefighters are able to care for the baby and make sure they have everything they need until the Department of Child Services arrives, Wilbanks said.