Eidsvold's acting OIC Wayne Harper reflecting on a difficult job he attended early in his career. Picture: Sam Turner
Eidsvold's acting OIC Wayne Harper reflecting on a difficult job he attended early in his career. Picture: Sam Turner

‘Her child wasn’t moving’: Crash that still haunts paramedic

A TRAGIC accident in north Queensland involving the death of a toddler still resonates with Eidsvold paramedic Wayne Harper to this day.

Him and his partner were called to the car park of a busy shopping centre several years ago, to a site no parent wants to see.

"We were called to a pedestrian versus vehicle, where we very quickly ascertained it was a young child," he said.

"Once we arrived we found a young child laying on the ground, with a few bystanders around including the child's mum, who was frantic at the fact her child wasn't moving, or making any sounds."

Being the first crew on scene, Mr Harper and his partner determined the patient had gone into a traumatic cardiac arrest.

Witnesses said they had seen a young P plater driver manoeuvring in the car park, and the child had separated from its mother, and had gone behind the vehicle.

It was alleged the younger driver was distracted, and went straight over to the top of them, according to Mr Harper.

After they assessed the patient's status, two more crews arrived, which included a critical care paramedic.

Mr Harper said paramedics continuously attempted CPR, however were unable to use defibrillators to shock the child's heart back to a regular rhythm.

It took seven minutes for the crew to transport the young child to hospital.

He can still remember the minutes following the hand off, and how it had affected the crews.

"The adrenaline was running afterwards, and the first responders were quite upset about what happened," he said.

"I've dealt with paediatric cardiac arrest before, but my partner and the other crew hadn't.

"All of us there had kids of our own."

Eidsvold's acting OIC Wayne Harper. Picture: Sam Turner
Eidsvold's acting OIC Wayne Harper. Picture: Sam Turner

It was later revealed the young child died of their injuries in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) the next morning.

"At the end of the day it came down to the driver of the vehicle being distracted, and he's got to live with that for the rest of his life," he said.

"I couldn't imagine watching my own kid get run over, and their mother saw the whole thing."

Mr Harper said heartbreaking tragedies such as this all came down to situational awareness, and the tragic consequences of being distracted can have.

"His situational awareness was taken away for a brief period, and in that time the child appeared behind his vehicle," he said.

"We try to reinforce how important situational awareness is, particularly in car parks where there's a high potential for kids to be.

"Focus on what's going on around in you, and if you're in doubt, get out, and have a look around you.

"Never assume, because this young driver did, and it ended in disaster."

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The lifelong impacts of responding to fatal crashes on our roads.

Queensland Road Safety Week runs from August 24-28, and is an initiative to run by the State Government to educate and inform drivers on our roads.

The Queensland Police Service stated 136 lives were lost on our state's rural roads, and 1,915 seriously injured in 2019, which equates to more than 60 per cent of total road fatalities.

The Central and North Burnett Times and South Burnett Times have sat down with several emergency services personnel, and asked them about jobs which warranted the need for Road Safety Week each year.

The jobs where people lose their awareness behind the wheel can have catastrophic consequences for a person's friends or family, with Mr Harper saying how preventable they are.

"Those incidents where someone's lost their awareness, their whole day, and their whole life can change in the blink of an eye," he said.

"That's the big thing we want to get out of stories like this, and hopefully people will read that story, and realise how lucky they were if they've ever come close to disaster."



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