Safe Surrender law: baby given to fire station


In her 18 years as a dispatcher Kathy McRaven has taken all kinds of 911 calls. But late Saturday evening was a first for her after a caller said her neighbor, who didn't know she was pregnant, had given birth to an unwanted baby.

"So we talked for a little while and then she asked me if they could just bring the baby to a fire station," said McRaven.

There was a possible complication: The caller told McRaven the baby's mother was reluctant to go.

"I said, 'Well if she doesn't want to, she doesn't have to, but you can just come, step out of the car and hand the baby to them,'" said McRaven.

Paramedic and fire engineer Andrew Weiss was on duty. He and his crew got the midnight call that a baby was heading to the station.

"It was crying, healthy," said Weiss. "We did our assessment, cleaned him up, dried him up, gave him some blow-by oxygen and transported him to the hospital."

The fire station is a Safe Surrender site. The state law, known as "Safe Haven," allows parents or legal guardians to hand over a 1- to 3-day-old infant with no questions asked.

"It was a good feeling, good to see that actually work. The procedure is there for a reason and it came out positive," said Weiss.

But not all unwanted babies end up in a safe place. Last Thursday employees at a recycling center in Victorville discovered the body of a newborn baby girl. The San Bernardino County Coroner's Office has not determined the cause of death.

McRaven credits Saturday's caller for knowing about the safe surrender law and doing the right thing in this case.

"It touched me that the mom and her friend had done such a good thing," said McRaven.

Under the Safe Surrender law, birth parents have up to 14 days to change their mind and reclaim their child. After that, the baby is put up for adoption.

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