BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People expect local fire and emergency services to put out the flames or care for the injured, but take in a newborn baby?
That is exactly what happened over the weekend. East Baton Rouge EMS says someone brought a newborn to the fire station at Jefferson Highway and Claycut Rd.
"This is our second one in Baton Rouge in probably the last year and a half or something like that. EMS crew had just returned to the station and was able to take immediate possession of the child," said EMS Supervisor Mike Chustz.
This is legal because of Louisiana's Safe Haven law, giving parents an alternative when considering abandonment.
"The baby's going to be safe. It's going to be well-cared for," said Chustz.
After making sure the baby was healthy, the little one was then brought to the Woman's Hospital on Airline Highway, just the second Safe Haven baby in the clinic's history.
"The baby is admitted to our nursery. It is assessed by a doctor to determine the health of the baby and decisions are made about plan of care and treatment," said Stephanie Minvielle, a social worker at the Woman's Hospital, describing the Safe Haven process.
A Safe Haven baby's remarkable journey continues from there.
Like the baby over the weekend, a newborn is then put into the hands of Child Protective Services at the DCFS.
"The Department of Children and Family Services works to place that child with a foster family or through adoption," said Minvielle.
In some states, like Texas, it is also called the Baby Moses law. Texas was the first state to have a Safe Haven Law in 1999. Louisiana soon followed in 2000, and by 2008 all 50 states have Safe Haven laws.
"Prior to 2000, there were many cases where infants were abandoned, subsequently died. So in our state, we want to prevent that from happening. There are options for these families and we want that to be known," said Minvielle.
Besides fire stations and licensed hospitals, a baby that is up to 60 days old can be brought, keeping anonymity, to any police station, public health unit or pregnancy crisis center.
The DCFS encourages anyone who would like to give up custody of their child, but whose child is not in immediate danger or harm, to contact an adoption agency instead of utilizing the Safe Haven law.
Employees at designated Safe Havens are required to keep the situation confidential. The DCFS says the parent can walk away knowing that their baby will be safe as long as they leave their baby with an employee and the baby shows no signs of abuse or neglect.