Friday, September 14, 2012

Newly Published Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Lightning Injuries

Those who have been following my blog for a while already know about how I came too close to lightning during my second running of the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run four years ago (when I could better keep up with my blogging):  "Sweltering, Scared, Soaked, but Spared--Surviving the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run from Hell (and My First Title Loss Ever)"

This link below gets you to one of the best summary articles (actually guidelines) I've come across on lightning, very recently published by the Wilderness Medical Society. (Thanks, WMS!)  Some of the treatment stuff is probably too technical medical; you can skim it or ask a friend working in health care to interpret it.

But there is practical straightforward stuff that ultrarunners can use (and if trying to make some buckle cutoff, maybe ignore, but at least it would be informed risk-taking.)  Such as:
if one can hear thunder, then there is a risk of lightning strikes and one should seek shelter immediately. As substantial shelter is rarely available in the wilderness, hearing thunder in this setting should trigger an individual to immediately avoid or leave areas that are high risk for lightning strikes, such as ridgelines or summits, and to avoid tall objects such as ski lifts, cell phone towers, or isolated trees.
Additional bonus learning point /editorial is in Table 1 "ACCP classification scheme for grading evidence and recommendations in clinical guidelines."  In medicine, workup and treatment guidelines are rarely clear cut / black and white.  Recommendations are graded; by the quality of supporting evidence.  Often what gets done for patients (or asked by patients of their doctors) is low on that table.  Aside from the impracticality of going in to the emergency department (or at least mine) demanding an MRI for your sprained ankle...

If nothing else  please take a look at and try to memorize their photo of the position you are supposed to assume if lightning strike seems imminent :  crouch on your toes and hear no evil.  There are more subtle things you should try to do, details in article.

copyright by the Wilderness Medical Society, 2012
didn't ask for permission, but hopefully they'll will forgive, since I'm trying to maybe save your life!

Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Volume 23, Issue 3, Pages 260-269, September 2012
published online 02 August 2012.  Davis, Chris, et al,  "Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Lightning Injuries"

Stay safe! Stay alive!

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