10:00am Thursday 19th June 2014
THIRTEEN children and a teacher needed treatment for electric shocks after an incident at a Burnley primary school.
Anxious parents descended on Briercliffe Primary after hearing how the pupils, aged seven to 11, had been injured just after 1pm yesterday.
An investigation is underway into the cause of the shocks but according to some reports it is thought they came from metal door handles within the school building.
The female teacher, thought to be the worst hurt, was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital with burns to his hands and forearms.
Eight children were treated at the scene by paramedics and a further five were taken to the same hospital ‘as a precautionary measure.’ Three ambulances and two rapid response vehicles were dispatched to the scene by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and at least half a dozen paramedics and two managers were involved in treating the youngsters.
Headteacher Rob Blanchet spoke with parents at the school gates, allowing children to leave with parents class by class.
One angry parent, who refused to be named, said: “You don’t send your child to school and expect something like this to happen.
“I’ve always supported the school but to turn up and find out something like this has happened, it’s frightening. What if my little girl doesn’t want to come to school tomorrow because of this?”
But another parent, Vikki Holden, added: “All I can say is the head and teachers were brilliant at looking after the children and reassuring the parents.
“The emergency services were at the scene with the affected children and they also were well looked after and from what I could see the children were okay.”
Two teams of engineers from Electricity North West (ENW) were on the scene investigating how the injuries came to occur last night.
Neighbours reported a power cut in the area surrounding the school at around 10.15am, affecting nearly 40 properties.
The Lancashire Telegraph understands that ENW engineers had been at the school that morning, working on an unconfirmed fault. Power had not been restored as we went to press.
Later Mr Blanchet confirmed that a number of children, aged between seven and 11, and a teacher had received an electric shock.
He added: “It is too early to say exactly what happened. The cause of the problem is currently being investigated by the electricity company.
“The school is closed at the moment until the site has been made safe. As things stand, we don't know whether we will be able to open the school tomorrow.
"We are receiving support from safety experts and colleagues from Lancashire County Council and other organisations."
A spokesman for NWAS said eight children were treated at the scene before being released into the care of their parents, with five others taken to hospital ‘as a precaution’.
The teacher suffered burns to the hands and forearms and was also hospitalised, added the spokesman.
Education officials have confirmed that the school was evacuated after the initial injuries were caused.
Classes were taken to sit underneath trees on the playing fields and teachers were dispatched to nearby shops to obtain refreshments.
Neighbour Colin Patten said: “The power went off at around 10.15am and we’re hoping it will be back on soon.”
His home is immediately adjacent to Briercliffe Primary and he allowed his garden to be used as a temporary car park for ambulances, as well as offering drinks and toilet facilities for some youngsters.
A spokesman for ENW said: “Our engineers are on site and we will be conducting an investigation.”
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