By Daryll Nanayakara and Gwendolyn Ng my paper Thursday, Nov 17, 2011
When she attended a routine sports-and-wellness lesson yesterday morning, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) student Dorothea Lim did not expect to end up running away from a swarm of angry bees.
“It was very scary, because we did not disturb the bees or anything, but they just came out of nowhere and started attacking us,” she said.
The 17-year-old was among 38 staff members and students who were stung at the campus’ sports field at about 8.30am. The bees are believed to have come from a hive in a tree nearby.
The victims were taken to Alexandra Hospital and National University Hospital (NUH), where they were treated for stings, which were mostly on their arms and legs. all were discharged by 2.30pm yesterday.
Ms Lim, a first-year pharmacy-science student, said that more than 50 students were doing warmup exercises, such as stretching, at the time. they were preparing for their lessons, which involve soccer, netball and volleyball games.
But something strange happened: A group of students began screaming and running away.
“Some of us initially thought that they were playing, so we ignored them. but, soon after, we saw the bees coming towards us and everyone just ran in all directions,” she told my paper after receiving treatment at Alexandra Hospital.
Ms Lim said that the students wasted no time in darting for cover at neighbouring blocks and toilets nearby.
“It was very messy, there were people running (everywhere), trying to shake the bees off.” However, the student, who had more than 15 stings all over her body, said that the stings were not very painful.
Student Lim Pei Xuan was stung on her neck.
Her schoolmate, Ms Lim Pei Xuan, also 17, said: “People were sweeping the bees off themselves as they ran. Some students even had bees stuck to their shirts.”
She took cover in the badminton sports hall, and was later treated at NUH for a sting to her neck. Students at the two hospitals told my paper that the person who was most seriously injured was a volleyball coach, who had to be carried away on a stretcher.
Mr Gery Zeng, 17, a first-year life-sciences student, said: “The teacher stayed there until she was sure the students were all safe. she was stung pretty badly.”
The coach, whom the students know only as “Ms June”, was seen using a clipboard to ward off the bees, so as to protect the students.
An NP spokesman said that the hive was destroyed after the incident, and the surrounding area has been cordoned off.
The spokesman added that a pest-control company has been engaged to do a sweep of the entire campus for any other hives.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said that the victims were taken to hospital in ambulances and Personnel Decontamination Vehicles (PDVs).
PDVs, introduced in 2003, normally handle mass-casualty decontamination situations, but can double as a mass- casualty ambulance.
It is understood that the affected students were given a day’s rest. most were ferried back to the polytechnic on chartered buses.
Additional reporting by Sarah Chang
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