Parents and staff of Kahalu'u elementary students detail evacuation response

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Apr 03 2014 07:42:28 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 03 2014 08:32:35 PM HST

A chemical odor at Kahalu'u Elementary School caused an evacuation of the school and sent 30 people to the hospital.

KANEOHE, Hawaii -

A mysterious chemical odor led to a full-scale evacuation at Kahalu'u Elementary School Thursday.

Click here for Lara Yamada's report.

Before noon, students and staff were being shuttled to the hospital by the bus loads. A paramedic was on board and more were waiting at the hospital to do an initial check. In all, 25 kids and five teachers were taken to Castle Medical Center. 10 more students were sent off to Kaiser after a chemical odor permeated Kahalu'u Elementary School.

"The eyes and nose hurt. The eyes were really itchy and the nose was stinging a little bit," said Sam Akin, a Kahalu'u Elementary School student.

"I wanted to get them as soon as I could," said Eldean Kukahiko, a parent and Kahalu'u Elementary Ukulele teacher.

Two of Kukahiko's grandkids were at school while he was teaching lessons. Paramedics arrived within one hour.

"It was unnerving because there was a different smell within the community," said Kukahiko.

"As you can imagine it was a very busy scene out there trying to evacuate a school with more than 300 students," said Shayne Enright, an EMS spokesperson.

The ones not enroute to the hospital were sent to Kaneohe District Park and waited for the all clear and for parents to pick them up.

"The school called me….They couldn’t get ahold of my daughter, so they said 'Could I come pick him up,'" said a grandparent.

"Hopefully school's in tomorrow; we're hoping it is, but we want everyone to be safe and healthy before we go back," said parent Melissa Hunter.

"We train for this, so we knew what to do," said Principal Naomi Matsuzaki.

Principal Matsuzako says the school made two rounds of calls to parents to make sure they got the message.

The odor incident was a little spooky to students and staff.

Emergency crews expect all of the students and staff to be OK. It has been confirmed that all of the kids and staff sent to the hospital have been released.

Principal Matsuzaki says school is back on Friday to end the week. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the chemical odor.

Ambulance leaving Kahalu'u Elementary School

PHOTOS: Kahalu'u elementary evacuation

Click here for photos from the evacuation.

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