The box was installed in February at Knoxville Fire Department Station 17 on Western Avenue. Shortly after midnight Saturday, three crew members responded to the box after the alarm was set off.
They found an uninjured baby boy inside, who appeared to be approximately 30 minutes old. The firefighters called an ambulance to transport the baby to the hospital.
Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks with KFD said they are grateful to be able to help children and parents in crisis.
“The whole purpose of this box is to be a resource for our community, that a mother or a parent that is in crisis and doesn’t know what to do with a child, has a place to go,” Wilbanks said.
He said not only does the box provide a safe place for the child, but also resources for the parent. There is a bag inside the box that has information about resources for the parent that they can take with them.
“It may sound a little bit hard to say, but we don’t want them putting the child in the dumpster, we would much rather them place the child in this box where it’s safe and has an opportunity,” Wilbanks said. “So this is simply that, this is a resource for the community and it makes us feel great to know that it did some good within three months of installing it.”
He also said an important aspect of the box is the confidentiality it provides the parent.
“When they close the door, it takes just a minute for the station to be alerted, that’s the anonymity part of the box itself, it does not immediately alert us to the fact that there’s a baby in the box, and that gives the person time to leave the fire station without us knowing who they were,” Wilbanks said.
The box is weight sensitive and has a magnetic, automatic lock that activates when something is placed inside.
“Once the baby’s placed in the box, it’s safe inside of a bassinet, the box is heated to roughly 85 degrees, and then within a few minutes, the station is alerted through our alarm system that there is a baby in the box,” Wilbanks said.
Tennessee is expected to have more safe haven baby boxes soon.
“Several fire departments across the state of Tennessee that are looking at doing this, and there is one planned for Knox County as well, soon,” Wilbanks said.
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The next box planned for Knox County will be through Rural Metro Fire Department. Both the existing and coming boxes are fully funded by The Craig Foundation and are at no cost to Knoxville residents.