A new partnership is ensuring that all newborn babies safely surrendered to San Bernardino County fire stations are comfortable and cozy.
Loma Linda University Children's Health is providing all full-time fire stations in San Bernardino County with supply kits to care for safely surrendered newborns. Each baby kit will include a onesie, beanie, blanket and diapers.
Through this partnership, firefighters will be fully equipped to make surrendered infants as comfortable as possible when they are transported to hospitals to be monitored and cared for before a new home is found for them.
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"When babies are dropped off, it's a moment of crisis. The mother or parents aren't thinking about the baby having all of the essentials," said Sherry Nolfe, the chief nursing officer of Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.
The Safe Surrender program allows for newborns less than three days old to be dropped off at hospital emergency rooms or other designated safe surrender sites in California--no questions asked and regardless of the circumstances. The policy was developed to prevent newborn infants from being injured or killed as a result of abandonment.
"We honor these moms because the hardest thing to do is leave your child. We applaud moms who safe surrender their babies because they aren't able to care for them, but they want them to be safe. And we want to be a part of that solution," Nolfe said.
In 2004, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors designated all full-time fire stations in the county to be equipped as safe haven/surrender sites.
Due to this partnership, all 60 fire stations in the county will be equipped with one newborn baby kit and have more available in storage. Previously, the stations used whatever medical supplies was on hand.
Nolfe said fire stations soon realized their facilities did not have the basic resources needed for surrendered babies, whether it was a lack of weather-appropriate clothing or enough diapers. She said these kits were created to meet a newborn's basic needs.
"Loma Linda University Children's Health generous donation has helped ensure that the Safe Surrender program remains a tremendous resource for the citizens of San Bernardino County," said Interim Fire Chief Don Trapp. "Ensuring the safety and security of these babies and their mothers is one of the many ways the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District remains committed to integrity, compassion, professionalism and service."
Three newborns have been dropped off at San Bernardino fire stations within the last five years. Although safe surrenders do not occur too often in their department, San Bernardino Fire wants to make sure they are ready to accommodate newborns when they arrive.
To find a safe surrender site, visit this website.