A YOUNG Wondunna mother's panic was amplified on Monday after police told her accidentally locking her toddler in the car was 'not an emergency'.
Bella Clegg had just finished running errands at Stockland Shopping Centre in Hervey Bay when she strapped 18-month-old daughter Cleopatra into her child seat.
It was not until she shut the door, activating the four-wheel drive's automatic locking feature, that the mum of three realised her keys were sitting on the backseat alongside Cleopatra.
Despite desperate attempts, including thoughts of smashing a window, she was unable to reach her daughter.
Panicked, Ms Clegg called 000 and was diverted to police.
"They told me, 'It's not an emergency, you need to get a locksmith, love'," Ms Clegg said.
Ms Clegg said police gave her no further guidance on what to do and who she should call.
When the call ended, she was left terrified with no idea what to do.
Fortunately a passer-by saw the young mum's plight and was able to help.
"It was lucky a lady that walked past me said the same thing happened to a friend last week and knew what to do," she said.
With the help of the stranger, Ms Clegg was able to alert security at the shopping centre and phone RACQ - but little Cleopatra took her rescue into her own hands.
The youngster picked up the keys, and her little fingers hit the button to unlock the door.
"Before that she was trying to get the door handle and pull it open. She's a very smart little girl," she said.
Ms Clegg said the 15 minutes Cleopatra was locked in the car felt like an hour.
"It's annoying that when you are freaking out and you don't know what to do, like most people, you call police only to get told it is not an emergency," she said.
"I had just assumed that at least police could do something or send someone."
The Chronicle viewed Ms Clegg's phone log which shows she spoke with 000 for one minute at 12.57pm.
The Fraser Coast Chronicle is still waiting on a response from Police Media.
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