A number of students aged between 11 and 16 have been rushed to hospital after collapsing at a school in North Yorkshire. Fire crews believe a “ripple effect” caused the incident.
Emergency services were called to Outwood Academy School on Clotherholme Road at around 12:30pm GMT on Wednesday after staff members witnessed a group of children lose consciousness.
North Yorkshire police believe the incident occurred between 11am and 11.30am.
The school is working with fire and ambulance services to establish what caused the students to collapse.
Outwood Academy student Olivia Craft told ITV News students began to feel unwell during the minute’s silence taking place to commemorate Armistice Day. She said students started to collapse just after 11am.
According to the Daily Mirror, emergency services are now investigating a suspected gas leak at the school, which could have caused the students to collapse. Car bonnets in the area are being searched.
Fire crews said no hazardous substances were found, but said the hall where the children fell ill was warm.
“We are of the view the children just fainted and there was a ripple effect throughout the school. More children felt anxiety and started to feel concerned and the thing has escalated,” Yorkshire Fire Service’s station manager Dave Winspear said when speaking outside the school.
“We have carried out a very thorough assessment and found no hazardous materials or anything untoward in the school environment.”
In a statement, Yorkshire Ambulance Service said up to 40 children are now being treated after suddenly falling ill at the school.
“We dispatched a number of resources to the scene including a doctor, three ambulance crews, two rapid response vehicles, a number of Clinical Supervisors and our Hazardous Area Response Team,” it said.
“Up to 40 students are currently being treated on scene, but we have not conveyed any patients to hospital at this stage.
“The cause of the incident is unknown and emergency service colleagues from North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are at the school carrying out investigations.”
They displayed signs of sickness and feeling faint, North Yorkshire Police said.
One police officer told ITV news: “The safety of all the students and staff at the school is paramount and officers are working with the fire and ambulance services to establish what has caused the students to collapse.”
In a statement, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service said: “Hazardous Materials Specialist Officers, a specialist detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) team from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, is also at the incident.
“A number of students have been affected who have displayed signs of sickness and feeling faint. Some have been attended to by paramedics at the scene and others have been taken to hospital.
“We are working with colleagues from North Yorkshire Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service at this time to determine what has caused this occurrence.”
Julian Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, said he has been “assured” the situation is under control at the school, adding he is doing “everything I can” to help.
“Education secretary has been in touch to offer her department’s help and support to @outwoodripon,” he said on Twitter.
Outwood Academy accommodates more than 600 students. The school was rated “good” in its 2012 Ofsted inspection.