Original article on The Florida Sun-Sentinal: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/pompano-beach/fl-pompano-safe-haven-stickers-20160229-story.html
By Wayne K. Roustan
New mothers who are desperate now have additional places to safely and legally drop off their newborn infants.
American Medical Response and American Ambulance will accept unharmed infants that are seven days old or less, anonymously, without fear of legal action, the same as any hospital or fire station under Florida’s Safe Haven law.
Personnel will accept the newborns at any ambulance that is deployed around the state, said James Cecil, Clinical and Education Manager for AMR in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“A desperate mother may not understand the difference between an ambulance and an EMS station,” he said, in a statement. “We would not want to turn her away.”
The AMR staff began placing Safe Haven stickers on 150 ambulances throughout Broward and Palm Beach on Wednesday. Cecil said the outreach will include Miami-Dade and other counties around Florida.
The Safe Haven for Newborns website provides online training for all fire rescue, EMS, health care, law enforcement and ambulance personnel. Most hospitals, fire rescue and EMS stations that are staffed 24/7 throughout Florida display the Safe Haven signage.
“We are looking to expand to any entities in the community [such as] urgent care centers,” said Nick Silverio, founder of A Safe Haven for Newborns.
“If they are open 24/7, that’s one thing,” he said. “If they are not open 24/7, we would put up a tear-off sheet so if a woman needs help she can tear [an information] sheet off and call us later.”
The goal is to increase public awareness of this alternative so distressed pregnant women do not abandon their newborns and leave them to die.
Since the Safe Haven for Newborns program began in 2000, there have been 237 newborns safely surrendered across Florida, with the most recent being a baby boy born at a hospital in the Panhandle last week, according to Silverio.
“We get seven or eight calls per day on our help line,” he said. “The calls range from Safe Haven situations to somebody needing counseling or somebody needing the basic necessities for the baby.”
The Safe Haven for Newborns help line is 1-877-767-2229.
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