Lightning strike victim aided by quick CPR
Wednesday, Jul 22, 2015 03:48 pm
When a Canmore man’s life was jeopardized by a freak accident on July 16, basic knowledge of CPR and first aid may have been the difference in minimizing further bodily harm.
Last week in Canmore, local golfer George Crookshank was struck by lightning during a round on the links at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club (CGCC). Canmore RCMP said the 63-year-old man was treated for his injuries at Calgary Foothills Medical Centre after being transported by STARS air ambulance. But before EMS crews arrived on scene, a scary moment developed as bystanders watched on as life saving practices were implemented on the unresponsive man.
A sudden crack of lightning knocked Crookshank unconscious and his wife jumped into action and performed CPR on her husband until EMS crews arrived on scene. Her quick response and knowledge of CPR kept oxygenated blood flowing through his body, which prevented further damage, said Kevin Penston, president of Pure Mountain Medic.
“The goal is if she got onto her husband doing CPR quickly, which she did, it helped keep the blood oxygenated and keep the vital organs and brain actually alive,” said Penston.
Penston says all it takes is four to six minutes for the brain to go without oxygenated blood for brain damage to begin. From six to 10 minutes, brain damage becomes very likely and after 10 minutes it becomes irreversible.
“We’ve always stated at Red Cross that fast CPR, fast 911 and fast AED (automated external defibrillator) saves lives,” Penston said.
Through the Red Cross, Pure Mountain Medic offers monthly CPR and first aid programs in Canmore and Cochrane. The next one or two-day course available in Canmore is Aug. 13-14. For more information on the Pure Mountain Medic CPR and First Aid courses, see www.puremountainmedic.com.
Penston says the hands-on school of training is built on real scenarios and what participants can expect during a real life event.
On the day of the incident, the Crookshanks took shelter to escape rainy weather at the 16th hole just after noon. A tree beside the shelter acted as a lightning rod where the electricity travelled through to the ground and zapped Crookshank standing nearby. No other serious injuries were reported.
Eyewitness Dale Jenks, who was golfing nearby at the time of the incident, says there was “no warning” of lightning when the bolt struck down. Jenks says the man wasn’t breathing until the man’s wife began to perform CPR on him, which he says probably saved his life.
Dave Jones, assistant general manager at CCGC, said the splintered tree on the course was cut down the next day (July 17).
The golf course is equipped with a lightning predictor called Thor Guard, which is a warning system designed to alerts administration of incoming storms.
Jones says the storm came in so “quickly and rapidly” that it went from a warning to red alert in a matter of seconds.
“The system goes off well ahead of time,” said Jones. “And it was functioning properly.”