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10 Students Sickened By Unknown Substance At San Francisco Middle School

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco Fire Department officials have confirmed that at least ten students at James Lick Middle School are receiving treatment Tuesday afternoon following exposure to an unknown substance, possibly illicit drugs.

San Francisco Fire officials told KPIX 5 that a city red alert had been activated, allocating all of the city's ambulances to the school located at 1220 Noe Street.

According to reports confirmed by San Francisco Fire, ten victims were being treated with all of the patients transported to area hospitals for treatment of non life-threatening injuries after ingesting the substance.

Other students have been assessed by fire crews and officials say they have isolated those affected to the ten students being treated.

Video shot by Chopper 5 showed at least a half a dozen San Francisco Police and Fire vehicles parked in front and along the perimeter of the school.

James Lick school officials sent a text message and email to school parents shortly before 3 p.m. to notify them of the incident

JLMS text message
Text message sent to James Lick Middle School parents after students sickened by unknown substance (CBS)

"At this time it appears as though some students have ingested a substance that is causing adverse reactions. Those students who have been identified as being affected are receiving medical care and their families are being contacted," the email read. "We will keep you updated with further details."

Administrators made an announcement on the school loud speaker Tuesday afternoon saying if any other students were sick, they needed to come forward, but nobody else showed up at the principal's office.

Of the ten kids who needed medical treatment, the fire officials said nine were minor. First responders doing triage identified one student as having symptoms more severe than the rest.

"It means we need to put this person to the forefront of our care and that person is going to be taken to the hospital sooner than any of the other individuals, which was the case here," said SF Fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter. "Non-life threatening, but definitely had symptoms that needed to be addressed immediately."

When asked if the substance could this have been drugs, SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe said, "At this time, we aren't speculating, because we just want to make sure the people who are treating the students have an opportunity to examine what it might be."

The San Francisco Unified School District sent a follow-up audio message at 4:40 p.m. that told parents officials were still investigating the incident to determine the cause. The audio of the message also said recommended that if a student showed any symptoms of "vomiting, anxiety or extreme sleepiness," that parents should take the child to their doctor.

Officials wanted to assure the students that they wouldn't get in trouble for coming forward.

The school sent an additional announcement that a planned Student Council Mardi Gras dance scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. would still be held despite the incident.

James Lick Middle School teaches students grade 6-8 and has a student body of approximately 550 students.

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