More than 100 students were taken to a hospital during a surprise fire drill in a school in Cabuyao City, Laguna on Thursday, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CDRRMO) said Friday.
“Ang lahat-lahat 104...Dinala po lahat sa hospital (In total, 104 students. They were brought to [the] hospital),” CDRRMO head Sabi “Bobby” Abinal Jr. said in an interview on Dobol B TV.
Based on initial findings, Abinal said the students passed out due to hunger and dehydration.
Gulod National High School - Mamatid Extension held the fire drill, in compliance with Department of Education Order No. 53 s. 2022 or the Mandatory Unannounced Earthquake and Fire Drills in Schools, according to Abinal.
But Abinal said the school did not coordinate the activity with the city government, CDRRMO, and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
GMA News Online sought comments from the school regarding the statements of CDRRMO but it has yet to respond as of posting time.
Around 3,000 students were gathered around 12:30 p.m. and the fire drill started around 2 p.m., Abinal said. The students were asked to proceed to an open evacuation area and then to some classrooms.
The heat index in the city was around 39 to 42 degree Celsius from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Abinal said.
Around 20 students passed out at the evacuation area while around 80 others inside some classrooms, which, Abinal said, were crowded.
According to him, an emergency responder also felt dizzy during the operation inside these crowded classrooms.
Abinal said there were no safety officers and medics during the fire drill and only students from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the Philippines served as marshals.
Some students are still staying at hospitals, according to Abinal. Some students who had been discharged again passed out at their homes, he added.
No more students are in critical condition, Abinal said.
For Abinal, the school should have coordinated with CDRRMO so it can give advice in holding the fire drill. Abinal said the fire drill can be scheduled per batch with 300 students.
In a separate radio interview, Mayor Dennis Hain said he ordered a temporary suspension for all fire drills in both public and private schools in the city.
“Ipapatawag po natin lahat ng principal at teachers at magpapatawag din po tayo ng school board meeting nang sa ganun hindi na po maulit ang ganitong pangyayari” he said.
(I will call on all principals and teachers and hold a school board meeting so this incident will not happen again.)
According to Hain, he went to the hospital where 112 students were admitted.
He said five students with comorbidities were in critical condition. Some students were having seizures and experiencing difficulty of breathing.
“Pagpunta ko po ng ospital medyo natakot din ako kasi nagse-seizures talagang nanginginig, hindi makahinga yung mga batang inabutan ko. Yung mga mata nila parang tumitirik,” he said.
(When I came to the hospital, I got scared because I saw the kids having seizures, shaking, and cannot breathe. Their eyes were rolling back.)
Students in worse condition were transferred to a private hospital to receive better medical attention as the public hospital was already managing many patients from the fire drill.
Hospital expenses were shouldered by the city government, he added. — Joviland Rita/RSJ, GMA Integrated News