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An 18-month-old boy is in an induced coma and on a respirator after choking on a banana at his day-care center in Moshav Geva Carmel, north of Zichron Yaakov.

The toddler is being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he is in serious condition.

Residents said paramedics were delayed in arriving at the scene because the ambulance was under the control of the Magen David Adom (MDA) rescue service rather than the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council, which received the ambulance a month ago from a community in New Hampshire.

MDA said the council was unable to properly staff the ambulance with local volunteers.

A staff member at the day-care center attempted to resuscitate the child before the ambulance arrived.

The toddler is the third young child in recent weeks to suffer serious harm after choking on food.

On Friday an 18-month-old child died in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv after having choked on the popular snack food Bisli last week, and a 10-month old baby is still hospitalized in Rambam, in a vegetative state, after having choked on an apple two months ago.

"Children at risk are those up to about 4," said Galia Shafrir Zionov, who heads the northern branch of the children's safety advocacy group Beterem. "At these ages the air passages are small and not developed, they do not have molars, and even if they do, they do not really chew their food."

Small children are still learning how to eat and should not be left alone with food, said Shafrir Zionov. She recommended not giving children food while they are playing, and avoiding sticky foods, round foods, large pieces of foods such as bananas and hot dogs, and items such as grapes, olives and cherry tomatoes, which can easily slip into the windpipe.

Shafrir Zionov also suggested making sure day-care staff are properly trained in first aid.