Nicole Revette is familiar with Florida's Safe Haven Law. The former Hillsborough County firefighter experienced the program in play firsthand.
"It was about 12, 1 o'clock in the morning. We had run our 23rd call for the day. Just got in from the call and I thought the crew was joking, saying we had a baby in the station," Revette recalled on Monday.
It wasn't a joke. She was the only woman on duty. It was October 2008, but the memory of being handed the child is still fresh.
"When you first have a baby in your arms, you always kick into mommy mode. Is it fed? Is it clean? Is it OK? I tried not to get too attached because it was a baby boy and I don't have a boy. You just want to make sure that it's going to be given the best care, that it's going to be taken care of all the way down the line," she said.
A Clearwater newborn was just inches from that kind of care when it was left on the steps of Fire Station 49 early Friday morning. No one knocked to hand over the child. Instead, the baby girl was found dead on the front steps when a firefighter went to pick up the morning paper.
An autopsy is underway to determine how she died -- whether it was foul play or if sitting out in Friday's cold temperatures took her life.
"It broke our heart because it was a life that was taken unnecessarily. It didn't have to be," said Nick Silverio, founder of A Safe Haven for Newborns.
Silverio says his organization was already in the process of modifying signs outside of fire stations and hospitals to include the words "only when left with a staff member."
"We were contacting departments across the state and making them aware of it, and sending them stickers," he said Monday.
Silverio says Clearwater Fire Rescue called on Monday to ask for two of the new signs for each of their eight stations, in hopes of clarifying a message to mothers in need.
"You gave birth, give that child a chance, and take it to the appropriate place," Revette added.
An autopsy on the baby was started on Friday. Clearwater police don't expect to find out the cause of death for a few weeks.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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