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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Six school children hospitalised after swimming pool incident

Published 11/03/2014 | 14:35

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The Educate Together school in Maynooth. Inset: Marie Hand, principal of The Educate Together Maynooth
Marie Hand, principal of The Educate Together Maynooth school where 6 pupils from 3rd and 4th class were hospitalised after experiencing breathing problems while on a school  swimming trip to the Swimming pool at NUI Maynooth yesterday.
11/03/14
Pic Frank Mc Grath
Marie Hand, principal of The Educate Together Maynooth school where 6 pupils from 3rd and 4th class were hospitalised after experiencing breathing problems while on a school swimming trip

SIX school children have been hospitalised after an incident in a swimming pool.

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Some 25 primary school children, all under the age of nine, were at a swim class at NUI Maynooth when they were evacuated after they were exposed to chemicals after a maintenance leak, Independent.ie has confirmed.

The principal of the school involved has confirmed that six children are in hospital this afternoon.

Marie Hand, principal of Educate Together in Maynooth, told independent.ie that a total of 25 kids from third and fourth class were in the pool when the incident occurred - and they started complaining about vapours

“Some of our own staff noticed that the kids were starting to cough, and then one or two said that they were feeling nauseous,” she said.

“So they were immediately taken out of the pool and evacuated from the building."

The 25 children were in the pool at NUI Maynooth when chemicals being used near the water entered the ventilation system.

It’s understood the incident occurred at approximately 10.30am this morning.

Due to their age, six of the children were taken to hospital as a 'precautionary measure'.

A spokesperson for NUI Maynooth confirmed to Independent.ie: "Six children are being held as a precautionary measure. This morning, there was a maintenance operation going on in a lab beside a swimming pool. Some vapour from the chemicals got into the air condition system, which then passed into the swimming pool area.

"The pool was evacuated immediately."

The school principal confirmed that two children are being assessed at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, two in Tallaght and two in Temple Street.

"All the children were seen by a doctor from NUI Maynooth, and then further assessed by the ambulance service," Ms Hand said.

"Six were taken to hospital, and the rest were brought back to the school. Their parents have come in and they have gone home."

She added that she did not have word on the condition of the children in hospital - but said it was purely a precautionary measure to admit them.

One unit of Kildare Fire Brigade attended the scene, according to a spokesperson for Kildare Fire Brigade.

A triage was established close to the scene and a doctor and nurse from the nearby NUI campus attended.

NUI Maynooth released a statement, saying: "NUI Maynooth can confirm an incident occurred at approximately 10.30am this morning at the campus swimming pool when vapour from the swimming pool’s plant room entered the air conditioning system during a maintenance operation. 

"The swimming pool was immediately evacuated and 25 children present were assessed by both the University’s Medical Team and the National Ambulance Service. Due to the age of the children (under nine) they were brought to hospital to be assessed. 19 children have since returned to their school with 6 children remaining in hospital as a precautionary measure.

This incident is being investigated by the University and the Health & Safety Authority."

The children from the Educate Together school have been taking part in a six-week swimming course at the university.

The incident has also been reported to the Healthy and Safety Authority who told independent.ie that the matter has been assigned to relevant inspectors.

According to a HSA spokesperson: “We understand that a number of children were suffering respiratory problems and the emergency services and gardai were called.”

“The authorities then contacted us and we will be dealing with the matter if there are any workplace safety issues.”

“Assigned HSA inspectors will be visiting the scene and an investigation is underway.”

The HSE National Ambulance Service later released a statement regarding the incident.

"Approximately 15 response units attended the scene including ambulances and rapid response vehicles. 25 children were assessed on the scene."

"Six children were transferred by the NAS to hospital for observation. Two children were transferred to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, two children to Tallaght Hospital and two children to Children's University Hospital, Temple St."

"The remaining children did not require further treatment and were reunited with their families," read the HSE statement.

Louise Kelly & Caitlin McBride & Geraldine Gittens

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