PALMDALE – Dozens of students were stung by a swarm of bees that descended Tuesday on Palmdale High School, sending many of them to hospitals for evaluation and prompting a partial evacuation of the campus, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported.
“Some Palmdale students had agitated a swarm of bees on campus. They started stinging the students and we were called,” said Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Cosey.
Paramedics were sent to the campus about 12:10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, in the 2100 block of East Avenue R, according to Cosey.
“Right now we have 43 patients that we transported to various area hospitals,” Cosey said. “We also had about 12 to 15 patients that have signed out with their parents.”
As the incident unfolded, worried parents gathered outside the school gates to pick up their children.
Kevin Merritt said he came to the school after receiving a phone call from his son, who told him the school was on lockdown because of bees.
“[My son] got stung on the top of the head,” Merritt said, adding that he opted to transport the boy to the hospital himself.
Some Palmdale High School students said the bee attack was triggered by a student who threw an apple at a large beehive as students waited in line for lunch.
“Once he threw the apple, [the beehive] fell down. Everybody started running,” said Terrell, a student who gave only his first name. “I dropped my backpack and booked it to the office and I got stung on the head.”
“This one kid… he was at the office door [with] at least 30 bees on his body… just sticking out of his body,” Terrell added.
A female student said she was with a friend at the school’s snack shack when she saw the swarm of bees.
“We started running and as we were running I felt a little poke… and it turned out that I had gotten stung, and then my friend, too, got stung twice,” Aileen said.
Another female student was visibly shaken as she described the incident.
“I was at lunch and a bunch of bees came swarming at me and they were stuck all over my hair,” Lydia said, adding that she got stung on the hand and face.
“The biggest concern, of course, with bee stings is anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to them,” Chief Cosey said. “Wheezing, respiratory difficulties and/or reactions like hives, or anything like that.”
A fire dispatcher said there were no reports of anyone going into shock.
Firefighters used water hoses in an effort to disperse the bees, officials said.
“We had vector control come out, as well as some local area beekeepers, so we didn’t have to go in there and just put the bees down with foam. If we do that our way, they’re gonna be euthanized, so we’re trying to do it a safe and effective way to handle the bees [and] get the students where they need to go for medical treatment,” Cosey said.
UPDATE: 56 students stung and transported to local hospitals
According to a news release issued by the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station late Tuesday afternoon, 56 students were stung by bees and transported to local hospitals and 38 students were stung and treated on scene. Read the entire news release below:
A Lancaster School Resource Deputy assigned to Palmdale High School was monitoring the campus when he saw a number of students running away from a common area on the school campus around 12:15 p.m. As the Deputy ran toward the area, he realized a swarm of bees had made it onto the campus and had already stung 3 students. The bee swarm continued to grow and for the safety of the students, the Deputy directed all students back into their classrooms.
In a joint effort by staff and teachers at Palmdale High School, the onsite campus security officers and the Deputy conducted a coordinated effort to escort all the students to safety, classroom by classroom. The students were released to their parents shortly before the end of the school day.
In total, 56 students were stung and transported to local hospitals. 38 students were stung and treated on scene by Los Angeles County Fire Department. Several staff members were also stung.
Bee specialists, bee keepers and pest control are on scene to handle the bee issue.
With the quick thinking of the School Resource Deputy and the wonderfully coordinated effort by the staff at Palmdale High School, a large amount of students were kept from being stung.
If you notice a bee swarm or beehive, please contact the Los Angeles County Fire Department. If you or a loved one is stung and begin to notice difficulty breathing, hives (an itchy red rash), excessive swelling, wheezing, or a racing pulse, you may be having a severe reaction. Seek medical attention immediately.