New Richmond High students evacuated after several become ill

February 11th, 2010    Author: Marsha Mundy    Filed Under: News

Several New Richmond High School students were taken to the hospital after complaining of breathing problems while in the choir room at the school around noon on Monday, Feb. 8.

Emergency crews were called in to transport five students to area hospitals and check the carbon monoxide levels in the building. The students had been in the room for 45 minutes when they fell ill.

The students were transported to local hospitals and later released. Six other students from the class complained of becoming light-headed and were treated by EMS personnel at the scene.

Firemen, air quality experts and Duke Energy investigated possible causes for the problems.

The high school building was evacuated with students going into the elementary school next door while New Richmond fire and EMS chief Mark Baird and his crew checked for the source of the problem. Nothing definitive was discovered in the initial tests.

"When you have five people become ill at one time, you don't want to take any chances," said Baird, who immediately had the building checked for carbon monoxide. "We had a small reading of 8 parts per million in the boiler room."

The boiler room, which uses natural gas to heat water for the building's heating system, is located in another part of the building and not connected to the ventilation system. Firemen later reported the reading to be back down to zero.

The choir room at the high school has been a problem recently after mold was discovered in the room. A recent renovation of the room including an updated ventilation system and new carpet was completed just after the first of the year. An adjoining room was inspected by the Clermont County Health District and Fire Chief Mark Baird on Jan. 20 and students were permitted to return to the room at that time.

"We're going to move the Troubadours to the auditorium until we find what's causing the problems," said New Richmond Superintendent Tom Durbin.

Durbin called in Trane to check out the HVAC system, Duke Energy to check out the natural gas system and Proactive Consulting to do a complete air quality check of the high school.

School board members David Painter, Sharon Stark, Ben Bird and Kevin Walriven responded to the high school and concurred with Durbin's decision to close the choir room.

"We're not going to put them back in there until we find out what's causing it," said Durbin.
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