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Officials say there's help available for people who can't care for their babies

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Local fire officials are sharing information about what people should do if they can't care for a newborn baby.

Under the Abandoned Infant Protection Act Under the law, any newborn child up to 30 days of age can be abandoned without prosecution, as long as it is done in a safe manner. Dropping off a child at a safe haven - such as a staffed fire department, police station or hospital - would qualify (More information can be found here or by calling 1-866-505-7233).

Firefighter Henry Chisholm Jr., who's stationed at Fire Station 8 in Salina, remembers a mother doing just that in 2010. "We noticed a young lady walking up the back parking lot with a baby in her hand. She came to the door, rung the doorbell. We went to the door asked what was wrong," Chisholm recalls. "She said she could no longer take care of her baby and wanted to drop the baby off here because she knows this is a safe haven."

Chisholm says the young woman looked tired and distraught. Firefighters that day tried to talk the woman out of it, but her mind was made up that she could not take care of her child. The mother left them with diapers, milk and her information, even though in this case she didn't have to.

"She told us the baby's name, told us her name, and she gave us a phone number. She gave the baby a kiss and she walked back out crying. Then the ambulance took the baby to the hospital," Chrisholm said.

As emotional as it was, Chisholm says he is glad the young mother did the right in coming to them, and hopes more avenues to assistance can become available. "I think they should make more safe places like community centers and things like that," Chrisholm said.

Firefighters we spoke to Wednesday said they couldn't stress enough that using a safe haven is a safe way to avoid a tragedy like the one in the Southern Tier and in Liverpool six years ago.

Their advice comes after a shocking discovery made by neighbors in Elmira in the Southern Tier; an 8-month-old baby was found in a plastic bag in the backyard of a home.

Now the child's mother, who is 17, is charged with attempted murder. The child survived and is said to be in stable condition.

SEE ALSO | Court docs: Abandoned infant survived 3 days in plastic bag in Southern Tier

While the child in that case was above the age covered by the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, firefighters say they wanted to remind people struggling to parent a newborn that there are other options.

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