Teacher, 13 North Merrick students released from hospital after carbon monoxide scare

Fourteen students and one teacher at Camp Avenue Elementary School in North Merrick were taken to Nassau University Medical Center Thursday after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected.  Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Oct. 10, 2013)

Fourteen students and one teacher at Camp Avenue Elementary School in North Merrick were taken to Nassau University Medical Center Thursday after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Oct. 10, 2013)

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Thirteen students at a North Merrick elementary school were treated and then released from the hospital Thursday after being sickened by elevated levels of carbon monoxide, officials said.

Camp Avenue Elementary School at 1712 Merrick Ave. was evacuated and ambulances and firefighters responded to the scene at about 1:30 p.m. after a boiler discharged black smoke and students complained of "nausea, headaches and dizziness," police and school officials said in news releases.

The students, all sixth-graders, accompanied by their teacher and two teacher aides, were evaluated at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and declared fine for release by late afternoon, said David Feller, superintendent of the North Merrick schools district. The principal also went to the hospital to check on them, he said.

Within an hour of children complaining of symptoms, police and firefighters had checked out the building and tested the air, declaring it safe for people to go back, Feller said.

The problem happened during a routine inspection of the boiler, which was near the room where about 22 sixth-graders were located, he said.

"The boiler was not on during the day," Feller said. "When the inspector came in, he turned on the boiler to inspect it and black smoke was released."

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The burning of oil in the boiler may have caused the smoke, which then "wafted" into the sixth-graders' classroom, he said.

"We got the kids the medical attention they needed very quickly and everyone's going to be fine," the superintendent said.

A hospital spokeswoman said blood tests to measure carbon monoxide levels were done on 13 students and one teacher.

Feller said the boiler was shut down right away and will be inspected when school is out during the weekend.

The district's message calling system kicked in, giving parents information on what had happened, Feller said.The district also posted a notice on its website after 2 p.m. that said: "Earlier this afternoon, some black smoke puffed out of a boiler exposing a few students in a sixth-grade class. To be on the safe side, 911 was called, the school was shortly evacuated, and the fire department assessed the situation and determined it was safe for the children to come back into the building. The children who were exposed are being medically evaluated, and their parents have been notified. Dismissal will occur at regular time."

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