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County Signage Program Promotes Safe Haven Law

Nassau Ambulances Join List of ‘Drop-Off’ Sites

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was joined Feb. 17 by Timothy Jaccard, president of the AMT Children of Hope Foundation/Baby Safe Haven Program, to announce that Nassau County will be the first county in the nation to implement a new program identifying ambulances as official “baby safe haven” drop-off sites. The ambulance signage program is part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the program, which allows for mothers to legally and safely relinquish their babies at certain locations.

“The Safe Haven law provides a safe alternative for mothers who are frightened and feel they have nowhere else to turn. The message is simple: if you truly feel that you cannot care for your baby, you have options. Find a Safe Haven location and put your baby into safe and caring arms,” said Mangano. “Nassau County is committed to the health and safety of newborns and we are happy to lend our support to this important program.”

New York law allows a mother who believes she cannot care for her baby to legally leave the newborn at a number of locations, including police precincts, firehouses, hospitals, churches or with any responsible adult willing to accept the baby and call proper authorities. Over the past decade, safe haven laws have been adopted in all 50 states and 2,636 babies have been safely relinquished.

All ambulances in Nassau County, and later, the nation, will be identified as Safe Haven locations with signs reflecting the logo, “Safe Baby - Safe Place - Safe Haven.” The Nassau County Police Department has installed them on all of its ambulances, as did the North Bellmore Fire Department, Winthrop Hospital, Wantagh-Levittown Ambulance Corp. and Life Star Ambulance Corp. This initiative is being funded by AMT Children of Hope and will have no financial impact on Nassau County.

 The AMT Children of Hope Foundation was founded in 1998 in response to a number of abandoned, deceased infants discovered in the community. The organization — comprised of members of the Nassau County Police Department, AMTs, local healthcare workers and civilians — provides dignified burials for innocent children lost to unsafe abandonment, and is committed to putting an end to such tragedies.

“The goal of this awareness campaign is to prevent the loss of innocent lives - most recently, the infant discovered in the Yaphank Recycling Center in January 2010,” said Jaccard.

Named “Thomas John Hope,” a burial for the infant is currently being arranged.

The AMT Children of Hope Foundation operates a 24/7 emergency hotline to offer assistance to individuals in crisis who are pregnant and have nowhere to turn. In 2009, the hotline received 2,115 calls. The organization also provides support to prepare parents-to-be to raise their child or make an adoption plan if they choose to; counsels them to share their situation with parents and/or other relatives; and educates them on the Safe Haven law.