Archive for Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Unknown odor clears high school

November 18, 2003

An unknown odor caused the evacuation of Baldwin High School and sent 27 people to the hospital Tuesday.

Supt. James White said an unusual odor was detected in the high school around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. White said the building was evacuated and the Lawrence-Douglas County HazMat unit called after several students and adults experienced scratchy, sore throats and runny eyes after smelling the odor.

White said some students were sent to Lawrence Memorial Hospital at the request of Douglas County Emergency Medical technicians, who were examining students complaining of respiratory problems.

"We had several students transported to the hospital as precautionary measures," he said.

Those included four students and a substitute teacher. The other students were transported by bus.

All the people taken to the hospital were expected to be treated and released, according to Scott Robinson, medical director of the emergency room. Ten had been checked and released by about 2:15 p.m. Robinson said that the symptoms were similar to that of pepper spray.

The rest of the students were sent to the Baldwin Junior High School gym while the high school building was searched.

White said the HazMat unit did quality air testing in the building, but did not determined the source of the odor.

"HazMat determined there was nothing in the air by the time they got there that was out of the ordinary," he said.

The building was later opened, he said, to allow for natural ventilation.

Students were allowed to return to the high school late Tuesday afternoon after the HazMat unit determined the building was safe.

There could be several explanations for the odor, he said, but it is unknown at this time what was the cause.

"There are probably several theories that could be explored," he said, "but at this time we don't have any idea."

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