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Sick pupils 'copied TV storyline'

12 November 09 22:12 GMT

Six teenage pupils have been taken to hospital with ethanol poisoning after apparently copying a storyline they saw in a BBC school drama.

Five girls and a boy are being treated after they found and consumed the pure alcohol on the premises of Aldridge School, Walsall, the council said.

The council said it is understood they had watched an episode of Waterloo Road in which pupils made ethanol cocktails.

A BBC spokesman said the BBC1 series tackled issues of the day responsibly.

'Very dangerous'

Councillor Rachel Walker, portfolio holder of children's services for Walsall Council said: "The BBC has taken a risk with their programming as they do with lots of their gritty storylines.

"It's unfortunate that the young people had access to the chemicals involved and did not take on board the further content of the programme."

In the programme broadcast on Wednesday, a nurse repeatedly told the pupils they could die and told them it was very dangerous.

The council said it would now issue a warning to all schools to store their chemicals securely in light of the incident which happened at about 1400 GMT on Thursday.

A spokesman for the BBC said: "Waterloo Road has always tackled serious issues of the day in a responsible manner.

"Last night's episode clearly showed the dangers of using ethanol and did not glamorise it in any way. Each storyline is thoroughly researched using experts within their respective fields."

'Potentially lethal'

Dr Roger Cooke, medical director of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said ethanol was alcohol in its purest form.

He said it was exceptionally strong and dangerous to consume and differed hugely from alcohol sold in licensed premises.

"Even a small amount of ethanol has the potential to kill because of its potency.

"Its intoxicating effects are felt much quicker and are more severe compared to alcohol sold in pubs, bars and off licences.

"Fortunately, on this occasion, the pupils were extremely lucky not to have suffered more serious medical complications," he said.

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