Elementary School remains after carbon monoxide scare - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Finch Elementary School remains closed after carbon monoxide leak

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Students line up outside Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta after they were evacuated on Monday morning (photo by Aungelique Proctor/FOX 5). Students line up outside Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta after they were evacuated on Monday morning (photo by Aungelique Proctor/FOX 5).

Atlanta Public Schools officials say Finch Elementary remained closed on Tuesday after a carbon monoxide scare sent dozens of students to the hospital. The carbon monoxide leak forced the evacuation of Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta on Monday.


When authorities arrived at the scene on Avon Avenue around 8:30 a.m., they say four students and two teachers had passed out, but all of them regained consciousness.

In all, Atlanta Public Schools officials said roughly 40 children were taken to Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital.  All of them were said to be in good condition.

The kids were treated with 100 percent oxygen to push the poisonous gas out of their blood, according to Dr. Naghma Khan, the medical director of emergency services at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital.

FOX 5's Beth Galvin reports the first group of exposed children were brought in by ambulance, and there was a second group of kids brought to the hospital by bus.  A third group of students arrived at the hospital by bus around 11:15 a.m., and that bus was carrying somewhere between 10-20 students, all of whom were calm and in good condition.

"Everyone kept on falling out and getting headaches like me," said first-grader Mylee Moore, who was treated and released from the hospital.

Ten adults were also taken to a local hospital for treatment.  Eight were released while two were possibly held overnight Monday for observation, Galvin reports.

A spokeswoman for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta said that all students were released from Hughes Spalding in good condition.

APS officials say all 515 students and staff from the school who were not sick were evacuated to Brown Middle School on Peeples Street because of the leak.

Natasha Notae said her two children, Naquaviya and Ricase, were inside their classrooms when the school was evacuated after teachers and students started getting sick.

"My head started hurting... so that's when they took me," said 10-year-old Naquaviya Notae.

Naquaviya was taken to the emergency room. Ricase seemed unaffected and was taken to Brown Middle School.

Their mother, Natasha, was home when she first heard about the evacuation on FOX 5. She rushed to the school.

Natasha Notae said that she was terrified when she heard what had happened and wants to know how she can be certain the school will be safe for her sons.
"I don't know if my children will go to school tomorrow because I don't think the problem has been fixed," said Natasha Notae.

Classes for Finch Elementary students were being held Tuesday at Kennedy Middle School, according to the APS website. Bus riders were transported directly to Kennedy. Those that walk or ride to Finch could meet at that school, where they were then be driven to Kennedy, officials said. For more information, visit the Finch Elementary website.


Investigators believe the carbon monoxide leak started in the main furnace in the school.  The building was closed up for the weekend, and officials said it is possible that gas may have built up inside.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, APS Superintendent Erroll Davis said investigators suspect the issue started in the boiler, which passed an inspection in 2011 and wasn't due for another one until 2013.

The Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Edwards told FOX 5's Aungelique Proctor that Monday's incident was the highest level of carbon monoxide detected that he has ever monitored, with that number being 1,700 parts per million.  He pointed out that the highest levels were seen near the main furnace, and that levels inside the classrooms were much lower.

Davis said they did discover during the incident that some of their calling trees are not up-to-date, so some parents were not reached.  He said they did follow procedure in trying to reach out to all affected parents.  


Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be undetectable without the presence of a carbon monoxide detector.  Georgia Poison Control Center spokesperson Stephanie Hon told FOX 5 that carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous chemicals that humans and animals can come in contact because it is not easily detectible.  Hon said it is considered a silent killer.

Davis confirmed that there are no carbon monoxide detectors in the school, adding that they have "already had that discussion."

State law does not require carbon monoxide detectors in school. A spokesman for Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says he will call for a review of state law and the potential need to mandate monoxide detectors in schools.

Hon said that the first symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure can be similar to symptoms you might see with the flu.  She said one way you can tell that you might have been exposed to carbon monoxide instead is if you see improvement when you're exposed to fresh air.

RELATED LINK: More tips for detecting and preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in your home

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