12 High School Students, 5 Faculty Hospitalized Following Chemistry Lab Mishap In New Jersey

Several students and faculty members of Kingsway High School in Swedesboro, New Jersey, were rushed to the hospital following a chemistry lab mishap.

According to WPVI-TV, the incident happened around 7:40 a.m. Kingsway Regional High School Superintendent James Lavender told the news station that “something went wrong” with an experiment, and potentially toxic fumes were released. As a result, 12 students and five faculty members were rushed to the hospital. Lavender notes that the students and faculty were taken to the medical facility via a school bus.

My Fox Philly reports the incident in more detail, noting that the “chemistry lab incident involved acid and the school filled up with heavy smoke leading to its complete evacuation.” After students were evacuated from the building, they were sent outside into the snow. Students began tweeting they were outside and were eventually taken to a nearby middle school out of the cold. The school eventually allowed the students to return to the high school around 10 a.m. However, school was subsequently cancelled due to the winter weather.

The individuals taken to the hospital are all said to be without life-threatening injuries. Though none of the students or faculty were seriously injured, some are pointing out the flaws in the process of removing the students from the classroom and seeking medical care. One blogger on Rant Lifestyle notes that the first issue is with the students being taken to the medical facility via school bus. Morgan Stewart, the writer, wonders why a proper ambulance wasn’t called in to evaluate the students.

“Oddly enough, they were taken to the Crozer Chester Medical Center in a school district bus. I wasn’t aware that this was okay for a school to do either, because what if there were students who needed medical attention that they missed? I thought it was the responsibility of the emergency personnel to assess the students and make sure they were unaffected. It just seems like there should be a more efficient protocol for ensuring injured students are properly assessed than taking a bunch of kids on a bus to a hospital.”

The second point brought up is chemical lab safety. Not many details are provided on exactly how the lab accident occurred. Instead, officials said that “something went wrong.” As Morgan points out, this incident may lead to a more stringent lab protocol to ensure the safety of not only students but faculty.

“Hopefully this scare is a catalyst for encouraging safer lab and chemical use. What exactly caused the incident is unclear, but it’s troubling that so many lives were endangered. Chemicals are extremely dangerous and should be handled with great care. It raises many questions like who was supervising the students? Were the students improperly using and mixing chemicals? Shouldn’t there be more standards set in place to prevent things like this from happening? The toxic smoke could’ve been much more detrimental, and it’s very lucky that there are no serious injuries; I’m sure the parents of these students are not very happy.”

What do you think? Do schools need to have better protocols in place for incidents such as this chemistry lab mishap? Should the students have been evaluated by EMS instead of being transported via school bus?