An incident involving hazardous materials at Manly West Public School this afternoon, 21 November has left two students very seriously injured, and several others with minor injuries.
Initially recorded as an explosion, it is now understood to have been a year 5 science experiment, anecdotally the carbon sugar snake, being conducted outside. The experiment, which are told involved methylated spirits, was affected by a gust of wind.
There were 12 injuries in total, two patients with serious burns and nine with superficial burns, NSW Ambulance have confirmed. One is an adult, the remainder are students. One girl has been very seriously harmed and taken via helicopter to Westmead Children’s Hospital, we understand. Another student, also very seriously injured with burns, was taken to Westmead via road ambulance.
The remaining students are at Royal North Shore and Northern Beaches Hospital with superficial burns; one teacher attended Northern Beaches Hospital for medical treatment.
NSW Ambulance Acting Superintendent Phil Templeman later confirmed the incident was caused by an experiment conducted outside.
“Today’s high winds have impacted the experiment and blown some of the materials around,” he said.
“The children have sustained burns to the upper body, chest, face and legs. Thankfully, the majority of the students were not badly injured.
“Two children sustained serious burns to the chest and face and were treated by specialist medical teams from both the CareFlight and Toll Ambulance Rescue helicopters.
“This was a huge response by NSW Ambulance to ensure that these children received urgent medical treatment within minutes of the incident occurring. This included eight ambulances, two Inspectors and two specialist medical teams.
“I’d also like to recognise the staff from the school, who managed this incident particularly well, offering immediate support to emergency crews and ensuring injured patients were moved to an area where we could treat them.”
Manly MP James Griffin said he had been in contact with the school and offered his support.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said this evening:
“My thoughts are with the students and staff affected by today’s incident at Manly West Public School.
“I have spoken with the Principal this afternoon to offer my support to the entire school community, and I want to particularly thank and acknowledge all of the school staff who acted so quickly to provide first aid and call emergency services.
“We will provide whatever resources the school community needs in the coming days, including counselling for students and staff.
“Investigations into the incident will be undertaken by the relevant authorities, including the Department of Education and NSW Police. In addition, SafeWork NSW has been notified and they will carry out their own investigation in due course.”