California: 18 Students Hospitalized After 'Unknown Chemical Leak'

California: 18 Students Hospitalized After 'Unknown Chemical Leak'

Hazmat crews were called at Bobby Duke Middle School in minutes as it became clear that whatever was causing the 'chemical odor' was also making students, faculty, and staff sick. The nature of the illnesses or what exactly was causing the "chemical odor" wasn’t immediately clear.

Siksha MUpdated: Thursday, May 09, 2024, 07:37 PM IST
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Bobby Duke Middle School | Facebook

As many as 18 students were rushed to hospitals after an "unknown chemical leak" at Bobby Duke Middle School in Coachella, California on the morning of Wednesday, May 8, according to a report by The Mirror.

Bobby Duke Middle School has nearly 700 students and 31 full-time teachers, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Disturbing videos of the scene showing several ambulances, fire trucks and police cars surrounding the building as the authorities desperately worked to find the root cause of the odor came to light.

The first call came in at 11:16 a.m. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, as it is commonly referred to, wrote in an update on its X page that within minutes, emergency personnel were at Bobby Duke Middle School in Coachella. It added that twenty four classrooms were isolated and patients were evacuated by paramedics.

In another tweet, CAL FIRE wrote that 18 of the 19 students examined at the site were brought to three hospitals in the surrounding area after they complained about minor lightheadedness. A school employee was also taken to the hospital. All are said to be reportedly doing fine.

Hazmat crews were called to the scene in a span of minutes as it became clear that whatever was causing the odor was also making students, faculty and staff sick. The nature of the illnesses or what exactly was causing the 'chemical odor' wasn’t immediately clear. It was presumed to be gas.

Was it a gas leak?

According to Desert Sun, Frances Esparza, an assistant superintendent of educational services, had said that children had observed a strange odor in the air, and staff were under the assumption that it could be a gas leak. Following this, fire department's personnel went on to determine the source but failed to detect any leaks. “The hazardous materials team made entry and was unable to detect any leaks. The incident was turned over to Southwest gas company,” said the fire department.

The middle school immediately informed students’ parents, who had arrived at the school to pick their children up due to the emergency. All district personnel were asked to provide assistance at the school.

The school resumed classes on Thursday, 9 May.

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