Letter: City’s rejection of baby box Seymour’s gain

From: Kristen Brown


Kudos to Hunter Wart, the local teenager who hoped to gift a Safe Haven Baby Box to a Columbus fire station for his senior project.

Hunter has the compassion and wisdom to understand that many pregnant women who choose life are compelled by circumstances to surrender their infants but are too emotionally distraught to do so in person.

In a publicly-available recording of the meeting between the student, the Baby Box CEO and city officials, the mayor asked firefighters if they’ve ever handled a newborn. The answer was yes on emergency medical runs.

Lienhoop tells Hunter, “My point is these are big guys who go into burning buildings and pull people out and you’re going to hand them this (referring to a newborn) and they’re scared to death.” He then imitated a firefighter, “You want me to do this? I need more than a box. I got to be trained.”

The truth is firefighters in Indiana have been obligated by state law to accept surrendered infants no questions asked for 18 years.

And our firefighters are extremely well-trained medically to deal with such a scenario. They are all EMTs. And at least one firefighter at each of all six stations at all times are advanced life support paramedics too. All have medical training specific to infants.

Our firefighters respond along with ambulances on every life-threatening medical emergency, including delivering babies out-of-hospital and treating infants in distress.

If a woman surrenders her infant to firefighters, an ambulance would transport the infant to the hospital for further medical care and DCS would assume custody.

As for a baby box surrender specifically, Lienhoop contends that firefighters can’t care for a surrendered baby if they are on a run.

The truth is if a baby were surrendered via the box when firefighters were out, 911 Dispatch would automatically be alerted and dispatch the closest available firefighters from our six stations along with an ambulance, as Dispatch normally does for medical emergencies. The firefighters’ response time would likely be less than four minutes.

Lienhoop wants women to always surrender in person even though they don’t have to under the law. But women in crisis won’t do so just because he says so. This is absolutely no reason to deny women a life-saving last resort option.

Imagine if our firefighters weren’t equipped for ice water rescue because a mayor prefers people stay off the ice altogether? People make decisions every day that a mayor might not agree with, but we don’t deny emergency services to them and their innocent children.

Months after Hunter’s proposal, his answer was rejection in the form of an email from a city administrator.

Our loss is Seymour’s gain. The Seymour mayor and city council graciously and unanimously accepted Hunter’s gift.

Thank you to a remarkable teenager for shining light on this difficult public safety issue and providing an excellent life-saving solution to our neighbors.