The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CDRRMO) reported that 34 more students of Gulod National High School-Mamatid Extension in Cabuyao, Laguna fell ill the next day after a surprise fire drill downed more than a hundred learners.
CDRRMO head Bobby Abinal Jr., quoted by a GMA News report, said the local government unit tasked the principal to suspend classes on Friday, following Thursday’s incident wherein over 100 students were taken to the hospital for showing heat exhaustion symptoms.
On Friday, Abinal said his men went back to the school at around 7 a.m. to get copies of the CCTV footage and found that classes had resumed. Upon checking the building, he said his men found out that the circuit breaker was off and the windows in classrooms were closed.
The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier said more than 100 learners were brought to the hospital. The DepEd said an inquiry is being conducted into the surprise fire drill.
The Department of Health (DOH)-Calabarzon said it will conduct an investigation into the surprise fire drill last. In a statement, DOH-Calabarzon said that the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) is now coordinating with its city and provincial counterparts on the ongoing case investigation.
On the day of the drill, the heat index in the city hovered between 39 to 42 degrees Celsius, according to a disaster management official.
Earlier, DOH-Calabarzon pointed out that heat exhaustion – often accompanied by dehydration — might occur after exposure to high temperatures.
Its symptoms include confusion, dark-colored urine, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle and abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, pale skin, profuse sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
“Although heat exhaustion is not as severe as heat stroke, it should not be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, damaging the brain and other vital organs and even causing death,” DOH-Calabarzon warned.
Further details about the hospitalized students were also being gathered, the statement said.
The Gulod National High School – Mamatid Extension on Thursday held the fire drill, in compliance with DepEd Order No. 53 s. 2022 or the Mandatory Unannounced Earthquake and Fire Drills in Schools.
More than 2,000 learners from Grades 8, 9, 11, and 12 participated in the activity scheduled at 3:30 p.m.
The Cabuyao mayor ordered the temporary suspension of all school fire drills in the city, which was organized based on a DepEd memo.
Based on the local government’s investigation, the drill started at 12 noon, when the students were crammed into classrooms despite the hot weather.
The students reportedly stayed inside the classroom on orders of the teachers, with help from so-called “scouts”, for over three hours, while in cramped conditions. Some had not eaten, while others were parched, the mayor said.
The students were eventually let out but they were sent to an open field, where they stayed for 30 minutes under the scorching heat, allegedly without water, the mayor continued.
This reportedly resulted in dizziness and seizures among students, while others also fainted.
A total of 104 students were sent to Cabuyao General Hospital, Hain said. Others were also medically treated in Ospital ng Cabuyao.
The teachers did not coordinate the drill with Brgy. Mamatid or Cabuyao disaster management officials, according to the mayor.