Safe Haven

BACKGROUND

In January 2001 the California Safe Haven Law was enacted to allow a surrendering adult to leave their newborn at a hospital emergency room within 72 hours of birth without fear of prosecution. The law allows the County Board of Supervisors to designate additional locations as surrender sites at their discretion. On August 27, 2002, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors designated L.A. County Fire Department fire stations as "Safe Haven" sites for the surrender of newborn of infants.

Since the City of Long Beach is concerned with the welfare of abandoned newborn infants and because the public is not always aware of the difference between L.A. County Fire Department and Long Beach Fire Department fire stations, the City of Long Beach proactively sought approval to have their fire stations designated as Safe Haven surrender sites. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved this request on November 26, 2002.

DEFINITION

A Safe Haven surrender is when a parent (or other person having lawful custody of a minor child) 72 hours old or younger voluntarily surrenders physical custody to any firefighter on duty at a Long Beach fire station.

POLICY

In accordance with the current Safe Haven law, all Long Beach Fire Department fire stations have been designated Safe Haven surrender sites.

  1. Optional medical questionnaire for the surrendering adult. (English, Spanish and Khmer)
  2. Information sheet that is to be given to the surrendering adult (English, Spanish and Khmer)
  3. Two coded confidential ankle bracelets (one for the infant and one to be attached to the paperwork)
  4. Larger bracelet for the surrendering adult.

The procedure to take custody of a surrendered infant is as follows:

  • Welcome the parent or person surrendering the infant.
  • Assess infant for any medical needs.
  • Request a paramedic rescue (if one is not in quarters). Law enforcement should not be requested in cases of Safe Haven surrenders only. Initiate an EMS report on the infant.
  • Locate and open the Newborn Safe Surrender Kit. Hand the surrendering person the inner business reply mail envelope containing the safe haven medical questionnaire, an information sheet and a copy of the coded, confidential bracelet. Place the smaller coded, confidential ankle bracelet on the infant and record the code on the EMS report.
  • Once on scene, paramedics shall assume custody of the infant, initiate base hospital contact, and continue to assess and provide for any medical needs of the infant.
  • Paramedics shall transport the infant to the receiving hospital and transfer custody to a designated hospital employee. Paramedics will notify Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) while at the receiving hospital. The receiving hospital will take custody of the infant, and make phone notification with DCFS.
  • The station Captain will brief the district Battalion Chief who will make further notifications through the chain of command.
  • The Communication Center shall initiate a PIO page upon notification of a Safe Haven surrender.