16 primary school children have been rushed to Townsville Hospital after allegedly eating contaminated lollies on a school bus. The children, aged between 8 and 12, are in stable condition and are being treated for minor illness symptoms.
UPDATE: The children have now been released from the hospital while the bus driver has been stood down. Parents of the children are now awaiting toxicology reports to determine what their children were given.
What we know so far
The children attend Bluewater State School and allegedly shared the lollies on the school bus in the morning. The children then began to experience intestinal pain, vomiting, nausea and lightheadedness.
Queensland Ambulance paramedics were called to Bluewater State School at 10.10 am on Thursday after reports multiple children were suffering from minor illness symptoms.
Of the 22 children who had ingested the substance, 16 were suffering symptoms. Six children were initially taken to Townsville Hospital, with a further eight following them.
A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman told NCA NewsWire that police were assisting the Department of Education and Queensland Health with the investigation into what caused the children to become sick.
She said early information indicates the children were all on the same morning bus, which is being examined.
Townsville Senior Sergeant Jonathan Searle told reporters waiting outside the school that the bus was being examined and the bus driver was “part of our investigation at the moment”.
“From my understanding, the children started presenting symptoms within 10-15 minutes of arriving at school,” Sergeant Searle said.
“The children were all on the same morning bus. In my 18 years of service, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of an investigation of this nature.”
Children ate contaminated lollies
It is unknown what the substance was. The Townsville Bulletin reports that the contaminated lollies were mixed with a “white substance” but this is not confirmed.
Bluewater State School released this statement on its Facebook page:
Bluewater State School holds the safety of students and staff as its highest priority. The department is aware of an incident that occurred today at Bluewater State School which required the assistance of emergency services.School staff acted quickly to attend to the students while the Queensland Ambulance Service and parents were contacted.The Queensland Police Service also attended and are investigating. Due to privacy issues the department is unable to provide any further information. Guidance or counselling services are being made available for anyone who may require support.”
Queensland Ambulance Service supervisor David Wright said children reported being “dizzy”, “crook in the tummy” and feeling like they were “going to vomit”.
He said their vital signs remained within normal ranges, with tests ongoing.
Bus driver stood down
In a statement, a spokesperson for bus provider Kinetic said the company was supporting police during the investigation.
“The bus driver has been stood down,” the spokesperson said.“We take the safety and welfare of all passengers, in particular children and young people, seriously.”
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said he had spoken with local authorities and his thoughts went out to the affected children and their families.
“Every child should have the right to travel freely to and from school without incident and parents should be afforded the peace of mind that their children will be kept safe.
To really find out what happened yesterday, what their children have actually ingested and what’s made them sick. That’s the waiting game that would’ve been absolutely horrendous to go through last night while being bedside with some of their children.”
Mr Dametto said the incident highlighted the need for more supervision on school buses.