Children fall ill after school bus ride

EIGHT children have been taken to hospital today after breathing in fumes from their school bus.

EIGHT children have been taken to hospital today after breathing in fumes from their school bus.

The children arrived at Hobart High School in Loddon complaining of breathing difficulties and nausea, while one was vomiting. They had been on the school bus from Ditchingham and other south Norfolk villages. At first they were looked after by school medical staff but by the time there were eight children complaining of feeling ill the emergency services were called.

Five ambulances were sent to the school just before 9am as well as two ambulance officers and an extra vehicle carrying oxygen. Fire engines and police also attended. Four children were taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and four to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Two have already been released from the N&N while the James Paget is planning to keep all four in overnight for observation. The children affected were boys and girls aged 11 to 14, including one boy with asthma.

A further 40 children were on the bus but are not feeling unwell. They are being sent home this afternoon.

Headteacher John Robson said: “They came in saying there was some smoke in the bus and they were not feeling well. They were reporting things like nausea, headaches and retching. By the time there were eight in our medical room, clearly we had to err on the side of caution and call in the emergency services, who arrived very quickly.

“I have been told it was hot oil that got onto the engine and became fumes. There was nothing illegal or anything like that.”

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He said the bus company, Goldline, based on Moor Business park in Beccles, had been running the county-council appointed bus for more than a year without problems.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “Police were called to assist other emergency services at Hobart High School in Loddon at about 9.05am after receiving reports that children on a school bus were suffering breathing difficulties. Eight children are currently receiving treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich and James Paget hospitals.”

She said that the coach, which was a dedicated school bus, was being investigated.

An ambulance spokesman said: “We had reports of nine children suffering the effects of inhaling fumes from their school bus. They were reporting things like breathing difficulties. One patient had asthma and said it was being made worse. One patient was being sick and one patient was feeling sleepy.”

There was a similar incident at Framingham Earl High School, near Norwich, in June. Eleven pupils were taken to hospital and a major emergency operation launched, but nothing was found to be wrong with them and tests on the classroom found no carbon monoxide or gas leak.

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