Boy, 3, critical after six-storey fall in Queenstown
Three-year-old falls six storeys onto parapet, rolls off and lands on his legs, say neighbours
A three-year-old boy is in critical condition in hospital after falling six storeys from the family flat in Queenstown.
The boy, who is believed to be Indonesian, was at home with his maternal grandmother when the incident happened at Block 168, Stirling Road, at about 6pm on Tuesday.
Instead of waiting for paramedics to arrive, the grandmother had picked up the injured and crying child and carried him back to the flat. Neighbours later directed paramedics to the unit.
The incident comes less than a week after a three-year-old girl got her head stuck between the balcony and a metal pole following a fall from the balcony. (See report below.)
A resident who lives on the first storey and who wanted to be known only as Madam Lim said that about five minutes before the fall, the grandmother had gone downstairs to pick up a pair of children's shorts.
"I thought it was strange because it had been raining earlier, so it couldn't have been part of the laundry.
"But I didn't think too much about it," the 66-year-old newspaper distributor told The New Paper in a mix of Mandarin and Hokkien yesterday.
She continued chatting with her neighbour, a 56-year-old engineering assistant who wanted to be known only as Madam B.
Moments later, as both women turned to go home, they heard a thud.
Said Madam Lim: "I heard a loud sound and looked up to see this boy on the parapet above (Madam B's) back door. He then fell off the parapet together with a bamboo pole and landed just outside her back window.
"If she had walked a bit slower, he might have fallen on her."
Although there was no blood visible, the boy was crying very loudly, she said.
Madam Lim said two men at a nearby multi-storey carpark saw the fall and rushed over to help.
They told her the boy had fallen out of a kitchen window and hit some bamboo poles on the way down before landing on the parapet and rolling off.
Madam Lim said that one of the men called for an ambulance while Madam B called the police.
A domestic helper, Ms Cherrylyn Fabillano, 28, went to the boy and cradled his head to try to keep him still.
She said: "I heard the sound of something dropping followed by loud crying.
"There was no blood, but the others told me he had fallen on his legs, so the impact could have caused a back injury.
"He kept moving around so I wanted to make sure he kept still before the paramedics came."
Within minutes, the boy's grandmother showed up. Madam B said the woman appeared shocked and asked, "What do I do?" in Bahasa Indonesia, so she told her to wait for help to arrive.
"After a few minutes, she picked the boy up by the armpits and carried him home. All of us tried to stop her, but she refused to listen," Madam B said.
"When the grandmother carried him (by putting his head on her shoulder), I could see his back was swollen and there was already bruising."
Ms Fabillano said: "I was worried there might be internal fractures, but the grandmother didn't listen to anyone."
A doctor has advised against moving a victim with traumatic injuries as this could make the injuries worse or even kill the victim. (See report above.)
When the paramedics arrived, they were led to the family's flat. They took the boy to the National University Hospital (NUH).
He was conscious at the time. He was still in critical condition yesterday evening, an NUH spokesman told TNP.
Property records list the flat owners as Mr Heryanto Tjandra and Ms Christine Santoso.
When TNP went to the flat yesterday afternoon, the boy's grandmother and a family friend were packing some things to take to the hospital.
When asked about the boy's condition, she declined to comment and shut the door.
They left about 10 minutes later and got into a waiting grey Lexus.
Grilles could be seen on the unit's kitchen windows, where the boy is said to have fallen from.
A neighbour, Mr Tan Eng Hong, 55, said the family has been living there for about 2½ years. "They usually keep to themselves and hardly talk to anyone," said the odd job worker.
The police said they are investigating the incident.
I heard a loud sound and looked up to see this boy on the parapet above (my neighbour's) back door.
- Madam Lim
After a few minutes, she picked the boy up by the armpits and carried him home. All of us tried to stop her but she refused to listen.
- Madam B on how the boy's grandmother took him back to the flat after the fall
Doc: Moving injured person could be fatal
Patients who have suffered traumatic injuries should be left alone until paramedics arrive to treat them, said a general practitioner.
"Sometimes, patients can survive an accident, but it's the rescue that hurts them," Dr Leong Choon Kit, who runs a clinic in Serangoon, told The New Paper.
For instance, a patient might still be alive after breaking his back, but if an untrained person moves him, it could kill him, he said.
He also said victims whose heads have been hit, but who do not appear to be seriously hurt, should go to the Accident & Emergency Department of a hospital where they can be properly observed in case of a concussion.
Here is Dr Leong's advice on handling an injured person:
- Do not move the injured person. His bones and vital organs might be injured and any sudden movement could kill him.
- Do not assume that just because there is no visible blood, the person is fine. Internal injuries often take eight to 10 hours to surface.
- Calm the person down and try to keep him as still as possible.
- Keep talking to him so he remains conscious.
- Wait for paramedics to arrive. They are trained to handle such injuries and have equipment such as a spinal board, which can help to hold the person's neck and spine in position in case it is broken.
ALONE AND VULNERABLE
Toddler Naureh Fitria Auni was left alone at home for about 15 minutes while her mother took her older sister to school.
Auni, who turns three in August, got her head stuck in between a horizontal metal pole of a drying rack and the balcony of her second-storey flat in Jurong East when she tried to reach for a fallen iPad.
Two construction workers climbed a water pipe and managed to free her head. She was unhurt except for a small bruise on her cheek.
A seven-year-old boy fell 11 storeys to his death from his flat at Aljunied Crescent.
The boy is believed to have panicked after he woke up from an afternoon nap and found himself alone at home. His mother had taken his sister to attend a tuition class at a nearby community centre.
He reportedly wandered to a chair at the kitchen window, climbed onto it and fell out of the window.
A five-year-old died of head injuries after he fell from his family's fifth-storey flat at Tampines Street 42.
He was asleep and alone at home while his father went to work and his mother took his sister for swimming lessons at a pool nearby.
He is believed to have woken up and climbed onto a laundry basket to look out the kitchen window, accidentally falling to his death.
A four-year-old girl was left alone in her grandmother's 11th-storey flat at Simei Street 1 while the elderly woman went out to get breakfast. When she returned, she found the little girl dead at the foot of the block.
According to a neighbour, the girl had been asleep, the window grilles were unlocked and the maid was not around.