A young boy remains in critical but stable condition after being struck by lightning in a freak accident while swimming at an Australian beach.
Emergency services, including police, rushed to Warilla Beach on Thursday following reports of a possibly-fatal lightning strike. Surf Life Savers arrived first at the scene, pulling the 9-year-old boy from the water mere moments after the horrific incident.
Lifeguards reported the boy had scars and burns covering his chest, and was unconscious and not breathing when they pulled him from the water. Life-saving measures began immediately, with lifeguards performing multiple rounds of CPR until EMTs arrived just before 5:30 pm.
“At this stage, we have our prayers and hopes to the young boy and the family,” said Surf Life Saving chief executive Stephen Pearce. “But it just goes to show the importance of life guards and life savers in these patrol locations.”
According to intensive care paramedic Terry Morrow, a local doctor happened to be on the beach at the time and helped paramedics perform CPR. “When the ambulance officers arrived they continued to do resuscitation on the young boy and got a heartbeat back and also got his breathing back,” he told Sunrise, via 7 News.
Paramedics Rush Young Boy to Nearby Hospital Following Lightning Strike
With the CPR successful, paramedics rushed the boy to Westmead Hospital in western Sydney with a police escort to expedite the journey. They attempted to fly the boy to the hospital, Morrow explained, but were unable to do so due to the stormy weather.
“We tried to get the helicopter to come from the base over to the beach, however, due to inclement weather at the time, there were lightning strikes and thunder and a sudden downpour of rain, they were unable to do that,” he said. “We organized an intensive care ambulance with a doctor and intensive care paramedic to take the young child to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.”
A witness on the beach recounted the harrowing scene, explaining that they were taking pictures when they heard the unmistakable crack of a lightning strike. “I turned around, and I saw the kid and the parents, they were crying and holding (the child),” they said. “They came to the shore (and there was someone) saying ‘help, help, help.'”
The lightning strike occurred shortly after officials issued a severe thunderstorm alert for the area, warning residents to anticipate giant hail, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall.
The odds of being struck by lightning are less than one in a million. However, it’s always important to follow safety guidelines in the event of severe weather. Take cover, stay indoors, avoid water, and don’t use electronics plugged into a wall outlet.
According to National Geographic, lightning strikes kill around 2,000 people around the world each year. That said, the vast majority of lightning strike victims (almost 90%) survive.