MANCHESTER — Ambulances were twice called to Burr and Burton Academy on Thursday after students became ill after using a commercial vape product at the school.
According to dispatch records, ambulances were dispatched to BBA on Thursday at 11:27 a.m. for an “unresponsive person.” Another ambulance was dispatched, also for an unresponsive person, at 12:25 p.m.
Privacy rules restrict the release of most medical information, but late Monday afternoon BBA headmaster Mark Tashjian said, “the students who fell ill have recovered.”
Rumors that a student was airlifted by helicopter were unfounded. Manchester Police Department director of communications Tom Best said a helicopter transported an unrelated patient with a medical emergency at the same time, causing some to confuse the two calls.
A helicopter was put on standby for the calls at BBA, but Best said that’s standard practice when the call meets any of several criteria. The helicopter was not needed and the students were transported by ambulance.
Also, Best said the second call resulted in two ambulances responding. Best said that was not because there were multiple patients, but because they didn’t know what they were dealing with, so dispatching two ambulances meant there were four people with medical training on hand, just in case they were needed.
Police Chief Patrick Owens said police are looking into the incidents but couldn’t comment because the investigation was still underway.
Owens was clear that just because there was an investigation didn’t mean that a crime had been committed.
“We’re looking to see exactly what happened,” Owens said. “We’re deep into checking into everything.”
Owens said Detective Abigail Zimmer is leading the way and hoped to have the investigation wrapped up soon.
BBA addressed the issue in a pair of emails home to parents.
On Thursday, an email from Associated Head of School Meg Kenny addressed the emergency situation.
“At the end of the 3rd lunch block, we called the rescue squad for support with a medical event on campus,” Kenny wrote. “Two students were transported to the hospital by ambulance. The situation was handled quickly and the students are receiving good care. Please understand that we cannot share additional information due to our obligation to protect student privacy.”
A second email sent Monday addressed vaping, without any mention of the previous week’s events.
“As we shared in the Bullhorn, our community is experiencing an increase in vaping activity on campus,” Kenny wrote. “We are aware that some synthetic substances (not fentanyl) are also circulating in the wider community. We are committed to keeping our campus substance-free and our students healthy.”
The emails said that all students will participate in targeted prevention education related to the dangers of vaping this week, as well as substance abuse prevention education.
The email said that students will learn about the dangers of vape products, including nicotine, THC and synthetic substances.
“Keep in mind that most BBA students are not using these products, but this education is important to all,” Kenny wrote. “I encourage you to engage in conversations with your student(s) about the dangers of vaping.”
The email shared resources parents could use to learn more.
“As educators and parents/guardians, we all want the young people we care about to make good decisions about their health and safety,” Kenny wrote.
Later Friday, Tashjian released a statement saying that “BBA is committed to a substance-free educational environment.”
“Last week’s incidents highlight the challenges we face,” Tashjian said. “This morning, I spoke to the entire student body about vaping, and we are rolling out small group discussions in advisory throughout the week.”
Tashjian said vaping continues to be a problem among students.
“Although I am pleased to dispel overblown rumors, none of us are happy with the reality that vaping is a pervasive issue among too many young people,” Tashjian said. “Through education, partnership with families and community commitment, we will keep addressing this issue.”