Firefighter paramedic Steffen Majer was checking equipment about 11 a.m. Thursday at a fire station in Lauderhill when two young women drove up with an infant in the back seat of their car. One woman meekly asked if this was where she could leave the newborn, who was wrapped in a delivery blanket and still had part of her umbilical cord attached.
Majer, a father of three, took the baby girl from the women and brought her inside the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Station No. 14 at 791 NW 31st Ave.
And with that, Broward became the county with the highest number of babies — 19 so far — dropped off since the state passed the Safe Haven for Newborns Act in 2000.
Statewide, people have dropped off 117 babies one week or younger at any hospital, fire station or emergency medical services station, anonymously, without any consequences.
On Thursday, Capt. Tammy Longo and firefighter paramedic Kevin Gabay verified that the infant was healthy before taking her to Plantation General Hospital to be examined. Once she is medically cleared, she will be placed with a private adoption agency.
Longo and Gabay must have had a feeling of deja vu. Last fall, they took an infant dubbed Baby Noel to the same hospital after she was left outside the same fire station in an infant carrier.
Majer said he tried to reassure the woman in the car who seemed the most concerned.
“I told her the baby would be in the best care possible and it was a good decision she made,” he said. “I even told her she could be proud of herself.”
‘THE RIGHT THING’
The mother “did the right thing, the right way,” said Nick Silverio, founder of A Save Haven for Newborns, which he created in memory of his late wife to publicize the Safe Haven law. “The importance is to praise [the mother] for being very brave and courageous doing what she did. We encourage people if they can’t keep their child, this is the best alternative.”
Both women denied being the mother of the baby, who they said was born at home Tuesday, Majer said. One woman, obviously concerned, asked Majer if she could find out who adopts the baby.
“It took an awful lot for the girls to come and give up something so precious,” Majer said. “They were able to walk away without scrutiny, and that’s what makes this program so beautiful.”
Majer thinks the reason Broward County is a state leader is that the community gives a lot of attention to rescued babies. When firefighters saved Baby Noel last fall, 200 people inquired about her adoption within an hour, he said.
“This program works,” Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Gregory Holness said. “It keeps babies from getting tossed out in the garbage, which we see all too often in Broward.”
Safe Haven’s 24-hour toll-free help-line number is 877-767-2229 (BABY). Counselors speak English, Spanish and Creole.