St. Helens daycare students suffer wasps attack
Emergency personnel were summoned to a St. Helens daycare center Tuesday, Aug. 7, after 15 people, mostly children, were stung by hornets.
An employee at Monkey Tree Day Care said a group of about 20 students was walking back from a day-time field trip when the students unknowingly walked across hornets' nest, triggering the attack.
Pebbles Stone, a center employee, said it was just after 1 p.m. when the group crossed a street near an empty field and accidentally disturbed an underground yellowjacket.
From inside the building, Stone said she heard screaming and initially thought the kids were playing, but eventually realized they were being attacked.
"It was pretty awful to watch. There was just a lot of [wasps]," Stone said.
One adult and 14 children were stung, Columbia River Fire and Rescue volunteer coordinator Jennifer Motherway stated.
Hornets are large wasps that do not lose their stingers when they attack, and can sting more than once. A common type of hornet is a yellow jacket, which often creates nests in the ground.
Daycare staff called 911 to summon emergency crews on site to treat injured children. Emergency officials from several police agencies and Columbia River Fire and Rescue responded to ensure crews had sufficient epinephrine in case of an allergic reaction. No children were transported by ambulance as a result of the stings.
Motherway said emergency responders set up a triage center inside the daycare where a medic was able to evaluate the stings, the children's blood pressure, and ensure they didn't have a history of allergic reactions.
"I am extremely impressed at how well the daycare facility managed the situation under pressure. The teachers were so kind to the kids that were stung, and managed well given the circumstances," Motherway stated. "Our paramedics were also very calm and collected and did so well. It was a pleasure to observe, given the amount of tears and hurt kids, it went smoothly."
Stone said she never experienced anything like it before, and when she realized what was happening, her instincts kicked in.
"When you have that many kids seriously hurt, your instinct is to get enough people around you who know what to do," Stone said.
At least three children at the center who have severe allergies to bees were not present, she said.