Life after a lightning strike |

Life after a lightning strike

Three Lakes area resident Barbara Stemple’s life changed forever Aug. 4, 2014 when she was struck by a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky.

The incident had an immense impact on Stemple who has spent the last several years of her life tracking down other survivors of strikes. Along the way Stemple discovered something surprising. There is very little in terms of standardized treatments for victims of strikes and little awareness about what citizens should do if they or someone nearby is struck. Stemple is hoping to help change that dynamic next week when the Lightning Data Center out of St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood comes to Grand County for a pair of presentations on lighting survival.

The two presentations will be held June 22 in Granby. The first presentation, Thursday afternoon, will be held at the Granby Fire Station and will be specifically for local first responders. The second presentation will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. at Middle Park High’s auditorium. The second presentation is open to the public and all local citizens are encouraged to attend the free event for their own safety.

The two presentations will delve into distinctly different subject matter with the first responders presentation focusing more on patient treatment, field operations, and lightning safety as it relates to first responders.

The public presentation will cover many different topics and will be given variously by Barbara Stemple, Steven Clark and Carl Swanson. Clark and Swanson are both affiliated with the St. Anthony’s Lightning Data Center and have extensive backgrounds as educators on the realities of lightning strikes.

Stemple will provide a brief testimonial about what it actually feels like to be struck by lighting and the impacts the strikes produce. Swanson will be giving his Lighting 101 presentation, talking about the basics of lighting and lightning safety.

“At the end of Lightning 101 folks will have a basic understanding of how lightning works, and a better than basic understanding of lightning safety,” Swanson said.

If you are a local first responder and are interested in attending the afternoon presentation in Granby please contact the Grand Fire Protection District for more details.

Along with her lightning awareness efforts Stemple is also looking to establish a lightning survivors group. Surprisingly most lightning strike survivors are loath to talk about their experience, according to Stemple.

“A lightning strike kind of scrambles a person’s brain,” she said. “It changes your whole neurological system.”

As Stemple explained lightning strike survivors are forced to deal with a range of issues after a strike from short-term memory loss and earaches to depression chronic fatigue. Stemple said it is common for survivors to feel as though their thought process is delayed. As such many survivors do not want to talk about their experiences, preferring instead to shoulder the burden privately.

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