Ambulance services are required by law to accept unwanted babies, but now the Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance will advertise themselves as a safe location with signs and stickers on their ambulances.
Unlike firehouses and precincts, ambulance services can dispatch ambulances to mothers in need, either to pick up a child if she cannot drop it off or to help with delivery if the mother does not feel comfortable going to a hospital.
President and director of the New York State Baby Safe Haven Program, Timothy Jaccard, visited the Whitestone volunteers last week to post signs and place stickers with the Baby Safe Haven logo on all of the ambulances.
Jaccard wrote the original law for the program back in 1998 that allows a mother to relinquish her baby with no questions asked.
He was working as a medical officer with the police department in Nassau County and was dispatched to multiple locations over the course of a few months to babies not breathing.
He found babies drowned in a toilet, stuffed in recycling bins and buried in a back yard.
“With that happening, I was perplexed at why it was every time I came on duty, these types of calls were coming in,” Jaccard said.
Jaccard took legal custody of the babies through health proxy and provided funeral services for them. He then conducted research and found that in a ten-month period, locally, 16 babies had been murdered.
He then wrote a bill and met with then-Texas Governor George Bush, who he then worked with to get the bill passed in all 50 states, which took 11 years.
The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service will join 6,000 other ambulance services that publicize their participation in the Baby Safe Haven program. Volunteers will be trained in the proper procedure for dealing with the mothers and babies.
Caren Sue Peet, who works as a social worker at Baby Safe Haven and answers calls on their crisis hotline, was thrilled to have Whitestone advertise Baby Safe Haven, as she said many people are unaware of the option of dropping off a child at a Safe Haven location.
“It’s incredible how many people don’t know about us,” Peet said.
As more services publicize the Baby Safe Haven program, Director of Public Relations Jason Fassler hopes the logo will become as recognizable as a hospital sign. Now the Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service is doing its part to make that a reality.
“Anything to save somebody,” Fassler said. “It was not a tough decision at all.”