McPherson fire department working to install first newborn safety device in state
MCPHERSON, Kan. (KAKE)- The McPherson fire department is in the process of installing the first new born safety device in the state, a new initiative brought by the passing of House Bill 2024 earlier this year.
The box will be installed on the outside of the McPherson fire department's station. The purpose of this is so struggling parents can safely give up their newborn in private. McPherson fire chief TJ Wyssmann says this law is near and dear to his heart because he thinks the previous process parents had to follow under Kansas law was inhumane.
"Everybody had to come and bring that child and physically look us in the face and give it to a first responder which is pretty cruel," Wysmann explained.
Wyssmann was also a key figure in getting the legislation passed. He brought the bill up wanting to take action after McPherson law enforcement found a baby face down in a dumpster in 2008.
"The mother had abandoned the baby. She didn't feel like she had any choices," he said.
The fire department started working on getting the box installed before the bill even passed in hopes it would become law. Part of doing this was raising money. Safe haven baby boxes cost about $11,000 but he said community members stepped up and surpassed that, seeing how important this is.
"It was a no brainer for them to decide to support this and continue to support it," said John Black, the lead pastor at Countryside Covenant church.
Church members there as well as a private donor and so many other people in the community contributed money for the cause.
Once the box is installed a person can come and place their newborn in the bassinet. There are no cameras around or any windows so it's completely anonymous. When the door closes an alarm in the station will go off letting firefighters know a baby is in there. The room it connects to on the inside will also have a one-sided window so firefighters in the station can see the baby.
Wyssmann hopes to have the new box installed, tested, and in use before the end of the year.
The Ottawa fire department is also in the process of getting a Safe Haven baby box installed.
For more information on HB 2024 click here.