7 Miami school cafeteria workers hospitalized after CO exposure

MIAMI (WSVN) - Seven cafeteria workers at a Miami elementary school were taken to the hospital after, officials said, they were exposed to carbon monoxide, Thursday morning.

According to City of Miami Fire Rescue, the workers were transported to Mercy Hospital for medical evaluation.

“This tragedy is averted,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Just after 10 a.m. there were reports of a strong odor that made workers sick at Orchard Villa Elementary School, located at 5720 NW 13th Ave.

Investigators believe it was human error that caused the concern. Ventilation fans were not on when the staff was preparing food for the children for lunch, causing the victims to feel ill.

“You’re dealing with a kitchen where they’re starting to cook food,” said Carroll. “Now, is it being properly ventilated? Was the fan system working properly? Or sometimes, was it even turned on? So those are the things you gotta look into.”

“They did detect unusually high carbon monoxide gas levels,” said Carvalho.

City of Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll also said there was no gas leak.

“The school did not have to be evacuated for anything,” he said. “This incident was isolated right here to the cafeteria.”

Fire rescue officials said normal school activities were not disrupted. No children were exposed.

This is the second chemical concern at a local school that took place in the last few months, but officials said there is no connection between the two incidents.

Students’ families told 7News they were not alarmed this time around because no children were affected.

“At least there no children harmed. I think that’s the most important part,” said Reckyia Sailla, the sister of an Orchard Villa student.

“Yeah, I worry about my kids’ safety, but this is the first time I heard about something like this,” said parent Ajaisha Wilson. “I really like this school. It’s a good school.”

Carvalho said he’s taking action to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

“As of tomorrow there will be a directive to all schools for the immediate installation of carbon monoxide gas detectors in every single cafeteria and kitchen,” he said.

All of the workers who were taken to the hospital are expected to be OK.

Carbon monoxide levels in the school have returned to normal, so officials expect the Orchard Villa cafeteria to reopen on Friday.

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