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40 school pupils treated by paramedics after faintings trigger 'ripple effect'

Published 11/11/2015

Police are trying to find out why the students collapsed
Police are trying to find out why the students collapsed

A school at the centre of a major emergency response sparked when four pupils fainted during an Armistice Day service, causing a "ripple effect" among other students, will reopen as normal in the morning.

Children will return to Outwood Academy School in Ripon, North Yorkshire, hours after 40 of them were treated for complaints including nausea and dizzy brought on by "anxiety", prompting the mass arrival of paramedics, firefighters and police.

However, specialist teams detected no sign of carbon monoxide poisoning or any other hazardous materials and later declared the school safe. One child was treated in hospital after banging his head, possibly after he fainted during the service.

Pupils at the school, which has more than 600 students aged 11 to 18, told how events unfolded.

Joshua Hall, 15, said: "We were all in assembly for Remembrance Day and people were just passing out towards the end.

"It was pretty scary, it was talked about the whole day and it kept getting worse and worse.

"My dad didn't know what was happening, I didn't have my phone so I couldn't text him."

Another pupil, who did not wish to be named, said several students had collapsed in the school's hall.

She said: "When the first boy was sick, we thought it was one off but then there was a big slap on the floor and someone had fainted.

"After that it was a bit of a domino effect, another three or four collapsed and then people started leaving the hall to get fresh air.

"One of the boys who fell was a bit concussed and had a big lump on his head.

"After that they ushered us out quickly and a couple of girls had panic attacks."

The pupil said lessons went ahead as normal during the afternoon but more students complained of feeling sick and suffering from headaches.

Outwood Grange Academies Trust, which runs the school, said 20 more children complained of feeling "faint and dizzy" during the morning and eventually 40 children were treated on site. However, they were all released by the end of the day.

Station manager Dave Winspear, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: "Children were feeling unwell, nauseous, dizzy. The ambulance service treated children for those symptoms.

"We worked through our protocol to see if there was anything untoward and assessed the school for any hazardous materials."

He said the emergency services did not know why the children initially felt ill, but said the hall where the 11am service was held was warm.

He added: "We are of the view the children just fainted and there was a ripple effect throughout the school. More children felt anxiety and started to feel concerned and the thing has escalated.

"I would like to assure you, we have carried out a very thorough assessment and found no hazardous materials or anything untoward in the school environment."

Sir Michael Wilkins, the school principal and chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, said: "The safety of our students is always the most important thing for us to consider in these circumstances and we were happy to follow the emergency services direction whilst they established that no students were at risk.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the emergency services and parents and carers for their understanding. The academy will open as normal in the morning."

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