by Jaydene Phillips, a qualified Intermediate Life Support paramedic and American Heart Association First Aid & CPR Instructor with over 10 yrs experience. Her company, First Aid Counts runs First Aid , CPR courses for adults in Jhb.
The recent lightning incident at King Edward the 7th School has caused some concern for parents as to what to do in such an emergency and how to prevent such incidents from happening in future.
The incident occurred late afternoon on Tuesday the 12th of February. Although details were sketchy surrounding the incident, it was revealed the 9 boys were pulling the cricket pitch cover when the lightning struck. Two boys sustained serious injuries and according to sources had no pulse and were not breathing when assisted by an Advanced Life Support paramedic who is a parent at the school. The other boys sustained moderate injuries and were also transported to Milpark Hospital for observation and later discharged. The two boys who were critically injured remain in ICU under critical watch. Lightning strikes are dangerous as they often cause cardiac arrest due to the high voltage, they can also cause broken bones and failure and burns to organs. The quick action of the paramedic on the scene essentially saved the lives of the boys. The sooner CPR is started the better the chances of survival.
Protect yourself from lightning by:
- Avoid open areas; lightning will always strike the tallest object
- Adhere to lightning sirens at all times
- Stay away from all metal objects
- Avoid swimming and water during a lightning storm
- Do not stand under tall objects such as trees or telephone poles
- Get into a car during a lightning storm as the lightning will pass through the vehicle
- Kneel with your head between your legs in an open field, become as small as possible
- Find a ditch to lie in in an open field if possible
- Avoid using land line telephones during a storm
What to do if your child or a person gets electrocuted?
- ENSURE you are safe at all times before assisting in any emergency
- Call for help immediately 082 911 OR 084 124 OR 112 from a cell phone
- Move the victim to a safe area if you can
- If there is no pulse and no breathing, begin the steps of CPR if you know how.
- Treat all burns with water and a sterile dressing and cover them up to avoid infection
- Move the victim as little as possible once they are in a safe area
Remember you can’t tell from the outside what is happening inside the body. Follow the steps of prevention in a lightning emergency. Knowing how to do CPR can save a person who is in cardiac arrest as it did for the two boys at King Edward the 7th School.