Students from North Middle School in Lenoir City sent to ER

By: Jake Jost, Investigative Producer WBIR
Date created: 9/25/2007 11:29:58 AM

Between 85 and 95 students from four classrooms at North Middle School in Lenoir City have been sent to area emergency rooms for evaluation after a freon leak on the school's roof.

The school system said those students were sent as a precautionary measure, and none of the students have shown any signs of illness. The hazardous materials director on the scene made the decision to send the students for evaluation after EMS crews on the scene checked them.

Fort Loudon, Baptist West, Parkwest, and East Tennessee Children's hospitals may receive students in busloads of 30 to 40 students.

ETCH received 29 students, who walked into the hospital themselves. None showed any obvious symptoms of freon exposure.

Parkwest received 24 students and one teacher, all of whom walked into the hospital themselves.

Kaylee Roberts was one of the fifth grade students sent to Parkwest. She told Kay Watson she was in art class and went to wash her hands, when she saw steam in the hallway and Spanish class next door.

After eating lunch, Kaylee said, the students were evacuated across the street and then to the ER.

Kaylee said several of the children on the bus were shaken up and scared, but that the boys thought it was cool they were going to the hospital.

She reported a bit of a stomachache, but didn't know if it was from any exposure to freon or merely being shaken up by the experience.

Director of Emergency Services Darrell Brackett said he had looked over the students and most appeared fine.

"They're in very good condition," he said. "They seem to be okay."

A few of the students with asthma were coughing, and ER doctors were caring for them around 2 pm.

The students not taken to hospitals have evacuated to Central United Methodist Church, next to the school.

The school system said the freon leak occurred after crews replaced an air conditioner compressor on the school's roof. When they turned on the unit, a hose burst and leaked freon.

North Middle school is in North Loudon County near Eatons Crossroads, where Highway 321 and Highway 70 cross.

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School officials have evacuated four classrooms at North Middle School in Lenoir City due to a freon leak on the roof.

The central office for Loudon County Schools reported maintenance workers were replacing an air conditioner compressor on the roof.

When the air conditioner was turned on, a hose burst, releasing freon.

School officials said no children were exposed, but they evacuated the nearest four classrooms as a precaution.