A newborn baby was surrendered to Florida’s “first and only” Safe Haven Baby Box at Ocala’s Fire Rescue headquarters, “marking the first time it has been used,” WKMG-TV Click Orlando reported on Thursday.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder and CEO Monica Kelsey, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, and Ocala Fire Chief Clint Welborn announced news of the surrendered baby during a news conference on Thursday morning and praised the resource for helping to save lives.
“I’m so happy to hear of this miracle baby,” Guinn said. “I knew when we did this in 2020, this day would come. We all did. We just didn’t know when. We’re glad it was there as a resource for the mother of this child. I’m sure there will be a bright future ahead for this precious child.”
The Ocala Baby Box is the only one in Florida and is one of 134 boxes across the United States, according to the report. The box costs approximately $10,000 and is leased for $200 a month. Since November of 2017, 23 infants have been placed in a Baby Box, according to Safe Haven.
Kelsey said she came up with the idea for Safe Haven Baby Boxes “because officials were still finding dead, abandoned babies despite states having a Safe Haven law, allowing mothers to surrender newborns to hospitals and fire stations,” according to the report.
“My biological father is a rapist and I was abandoned at birth and my life still has value. I wish that today, my birth mom would have had those resources all those years ago,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey noted that each box has a heater and a cooling unit and is alarm-activated. A silent alarm alerts firefighters if a baby is in the box 60 seconds after the baby is placed inside.
“Sixty seconds is enough time for mom to get away,” Kelsey said.
Once the baby is inside the box, the outer door locks and only safety or medical personnel are able to access it, the report states. Safe Haven officials said the newborn is “attended to within five minutes, medically evaluated at a local hospital and adopted within 30-45 days,” the report states.