Unknown cause sickens Pinedale elementary students
EMTs, Sheriff's Office, Fire, Public Health, County Health, and Sublette County Emergency Management all responded to the scene.
37 students and two adults became ill while in the lobby of the Wrangler Gym Friday morning. The cause has not been determined.
Sheriff's Office deputies blocked the road to the school to keep people away during the evacuation.
Students evacuated in an orderly fashion to the Lutheran Church across the street where they were picked up by parents or stayed for the rest of the school day under staff supervision.
School evacuated and closed as officials try to determine the cause
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
Original post May 8, 2009 | Updated May 10, 2009
Editor's Update Sunday, May 10, 2009: Sublette County School District #1 Superintendent Doris Woodbury reports that Pinedale Elementary has been cleared to reopen for normal class schedule on Monday. No cause has been determined for the illnesses on Friday.
Original story posted Friday, May 8, 2009:
On Friday morning, May 8th around 10:20 AM, several children at Pinedale Elementary School complained of feeling sick while in the lobby of the Wrangler Gym. They experienced vomiting and dizziness. Within minutes, a number of other students complained of the same thing.
School staff called the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office requesting an ambulance. Sublette County Fire Department, EMTs, Public Health, County Health, Sublette County Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office and natural gas company all responded to the scene.
The elementary school was evacuated at that time and closed.
According to Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Randy Hanson, 37 students complained of the same symptoms. Two adults in the school also reported feeling ill with similar symptoms. Elementary school staff was already evacuating the students when emergency responders arrived.
Sublette County School District #1 personnel called parents of sick children and they were picked up and taken home. The school issued a media release and contacted parents about the situation. The remaining elementary school children stayed at the Lutheran Church across the street to get them out of the school and were attended to the health department and EMTs. All the children recovered quickly once out of the building. Some parents picked up their kids and other students remained there for the rest of the school day watching videos and doing activities under the supervision of school staff.
Pinedale High School Principal Dick Kennedy said, "We thank the Lutheran Church, the Baptist Church, the Pinedale Aquatic Center and the parents who picked up students. The evacuation went very smoothly."
The incident did not affect students at the middle or high school, and those students stayed in their schools for the entire day.
The fire department tested everything as best they could in the Wrangler Gym lobby. According to Hanson, they reportedly detected a slight elevation in carbon monoxide levels, but could not determine for sure that was the cause, or where it was coming from. No official cause has been announced as of the time of this report.
The area was sealed off and secured and the regional HazMat team from Rock Springs was called in with specialized gear to try and pinpoint the cause.
Sublette County Sheriff "Bardy" Bardin said, "A lot of praise needs to go to the elementary school for their evacuation plan and how it worked. They practice that."
Pinedale High School Principal Dick Kennedy said, "Everyone responded in a timely manner. The administration and staff did what they were supposed to do. We followed our evacuation plan to the letter and it proved very effective. We will do a follow-up next week on it."
Photos by Dawn Ballou-Pinedale Online, and Bob Rule-KPIN 101.1 FM Radio.