Cool heads prevailed in heat of stinging
Nelson city councillor and former Nelson Leader journalist Matt Lawrey was on his son's school outing when it took a chaotic turn.
It's not every day your son's school trip turns into a disaster movie but that's what happened for about 30 minutes yesterday at Tahunanui Beach.
Victory Primary School's year 3 and 4 kids were having the time of their lives enjoying their much-anticipated Pirate Day. There were children, teachers and parents dressed as pirates, and pirate games, like cannon ball tossing and barrel racing.
The kids were looking for the next clue in their treasure hunt when things went pear-shaped. For no apparent reason a little boy started freaking out. Then the girl next to him started screaming. Then other kids started losing it. Then the grown-ups began wildly swinging their arms and frantically grabbing at the children around them. From a short distance it looked like they had all gone mad.
Those of us who weren't being attacked by wasps rushed forward telling the kids to move and, when they didn't move, to run. Children too traumatised to run were scooped up and together we took off with the wasps in hot pursuit.
After 50 metres the insects beat a retreat, leaving us with about 20 screaming children, many suffering multiple stings. Some still had wasps in their clothes and hair. One boy had a wasp in his ear.
The grown-ups comforted the victims and tried to treat their stings with water, ice and sprays. Then allergies made their presence felt. I was telling a boy to breathe deeply and be brave when his hand swelled up like a boxing glove.
More seriously, someone's grandmother collapsed. At first she seemed OK but then she appeared to go into anaphylactic shock. She was barely conscious when we carried her to the ambulance.
Throughout it all the teachers and parents remained impressively focused. Everyone jumped in and helped. They all kept it together despite some being stung numerous times.
The best bit, though, was when the decision was made that Pirate Day would go on. No running back to school for the year 3s and 4s of Victory Primary.
Instead it was off to the other end of the beach for lunch, fun in the playground and a swim complete with a handstand competition.
Despite the wasps' best efforts, most of us still had a great day.
The Nelson Mail