PRAISE: Melanie Harvey, from Minyama, with 18-month-old Indiana, who suffered a seizure on a family trip to Sealife Underwater World last week.
PRAISE: Melanie Harvey, from Minyama, with 18-month-old Indiana, who suffered a seizure on a family trip to Sealife Underwater World last week. Warren Lynam

Toddler's seizure triggers frantic emergency response

THE glazed look in Indiana Harvey's eyes seconds before she began to convulse is etched into her mother's mind.

For Melanie, the events that unfolded right after she realised her 18-month-old was having a seizure during a family trip to Sealife Underwater World last week are still a blur.

But when her world seemed to be falling apart around her, the attraction's staff held everything together and worked as a team to save Indiana's life.

The Harvey family, from Minyama, had decided to visit the attraction on Wednesday to brighten up Indiana, who had been sick for four days with a gastro-enteritis virus.

"We had begun to look at the fish in one of the tanks in the fresh water area near the exit when I picked Indi up to show her a tank," Ms Harvey recalled.

"When I looked at her, she was staring and unresponsive and she started to have a seizure.

"I had never experienced this before and was unsure what was happening to her, I actually thought that she was dying."

Ms Harvey yelled out and a woman nearby called the ambulance and led her into an exit area, where staff quickly converged to help.

Among them was displays manager Kate Willson.

Ms Willson said she had been alerted to the emergency by aquarist and first responder Denice Askebrink.

"All she said over the radio was 'Kate, I need you downstairs now' and I knew from the tone of her voice that something bad had happened, we all bolted to the back house area," she said.

"There were eight or 10 of us there to help and others on the radio checking in that everything was OK."

As Indiana had a pulse, she did not require CPR, but team members were able to ue their extensive first aid training, including the use of oxygen, to keep her stable until paramedics arrived.

"She was blue when I got there and it was a bit scary," Ms Willson said.

"We got the oxygen kit together to try to get her to come back to us and we had emergency on the line with us the whole time because when you are dealing with a small child, you double-cross yourself and are always a bit more careful.

"Obviously Mel was quite distressed, and Indi was in and out of consciousness.

"She had cried a little bit and was pulling away from the mask we were holding on her face, so we knew that was a good sign that she was responsive."

As Indiana was being treated in the staff area, paramedics were able to quickly access the little girl through a back entrance and the general public knew nothing of the emergency unfolding.

The ordeal wasn't over for the Harvey family until much later that night, with Indiana remaining unconscious on the ambulance journey to Nambour hospital. But Ms Harvey said she had since made a good recovery and was back to being a carefree little girl.

"The staff at Nambour think Indi had a seizure due to either the virus or low blood sugar due to being so sick, hypoglycaemia," she said.

"We are investigating further to see if Indi has any form of epilepsy."

Although she does not know the woman who first helped her and remained by her side throughout the terrifying incident, Ms Harvey said she was also amazed by her actions.

Despite Ms Harvey's praise that the Underwater World team had gone above and beyond to care for her in such a vulnerable situation, Ms Willson insisted they were just "doing our job".

"I am so grateful for the support and care that was given both at Underwater World staff and by the ambulance and hospital staff, I want to sing their praises," Ms Harvey said.

"I was a mess, I simply wasn't coping very well they just took over and kept my daughter safe.

"It is something I will never forget."

Ms Willson said she was pleased to hear Indiana was back at home safe and well.

"I have assisted many elderly people who have had falls, or tourists that have been overcome by the heat here, but this was a first for me and one that I never would have expected," she said.

"We just went into crisis mode and worked together to achieve the best result we possibly could."

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