Toddler critical after being found on bus

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A three-year-old girl remains in a critical condition after being left on a bus in hot weather in central Queensland.

The pre-schooler was found unconscious on the minibus outside a childcare centre in Gracemere, near Rockhampton, as the temperature rose to almost 30 degrees on Wednesday afternoon.

She was taken to Rockhampton Base Hospital in a critical condition before being flown to Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

It is believed she has been intubated and is being treated for kidney failure, and will undergo a brain scan, Nine Network reported on Thursday.

Queensland Ambulance Service operations manager Jason Thompson said the situation was distressing for paramedics.

“I get goosebumps just as I speak about it now,” he said at the scene on Wednesday.

“Police will investigate it thoroughly. It’s a trying time no matter what the situation is, you could put yourself in their shoes (childcare centre staff); they would be very distressed.

“When a child is sick it is traumatic and when one is critical and unconscious, your heart goes out to them. The [QAS] crews are travelling well but they are traumatised.”

Police are investigating how the girl came to be left on the bus after she was picked up in the morning to be taken to the centre.

Several young children have died or needed hospital treatment after being left on minibuses in the heat in Queensland in recent years.

Maliq Nicholas Floyd Namok-Malamoo died from heat stress after being left on a bus for almost six hours after being picked up to go to a childcare centre in Edmonton, near Cairns, in February 2020.

The three-year-old was found still buckled into his seat on the bus, which was parked outside Hambledon State School, about 1.7 kilometres from the childcare centre.

In 2018, a 14-month-old girl was left in a bus used by a childcare centre on the Gold Coast for more than an hour as the outside temperature approached 30 degrees.

Maliq’s mother Muriel Namok said her thoughts were with the Gracemere girl’s family and the incident had brought back memories of her son’s death.

“Just sick, I felt really sick in my stomach. Angry, but definitely sick, I know this feeling all too well,” she told Nine’s Today program.

Education Queensland brought out its Look Before You Lock policy in October 2021, but Maliq’s godmother Rowena Bullio said more needed to be done.

“You look before you lock every time without fail,” she told the program.

“And why it goes on like this? I mean we’ve had, we saw cracks in aged care and then a royal commission came out of that. And this (Maliq) is one child too many, and then we have another child.

“It’s too unbelievable. There is a feeling of disbelief, and there is anger, there is anger now.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was praying for the girl, and urged Queensland authorities to take action to stop similar situations happening again.

“I’m expecting swift action from the state enforcement authorities on this issue, and I’m sure that will follow,” he told Today.

“For the parents this is absolutely heartbreaking, I can’t even imagine the terrible anxiety that they’re feeling at this time.

“I look forward to hearing better news, but it’s horrific.”

-AAP

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