HIGHLANDS RANCH - While watching her stepson play baseball in the Arapahoe Youth League's Veterans Memorial Tournament on Saturday, an ER nurse helped a woman injured by a nearby lightning strike.
Pauline Parises said the game was delayed because of a storm in the area. She said people took shelter under tents, in cars and in the dugout. However, she said one woman from the opposite team did not.
"She was just standing next to a tree," Parises said. "She was standing kind of by herself with a chair and an umbrella."
The woman was injured by a lightning strike that hit nearby. Littleton Fire Rescue's emergency manager, Jackie Erwin, said the tree the woman was leaning against and the ground acted as a conduit for the strike.
Because she's an ER nurse, Parises was one of the first people to help the woman with her injuries. She said the first thing she did was make sure she was awake and breathing. Parises said the woman was still conscious.
"She said she couldn't feel her legs so we just held her neck straight and waited for the paramedics," Parises said. "We kept her warm and dry since it was still raining."
Erwin said the woman was taken to the hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries.
"It sounds like it was some flash burns to her skin," she said.
But Erwin wants others to be aware that a tent is not a proper shelter when people are caught in a storm.
"There's really no place outside that's safe during a thunder and lightning storm," she said.
The best thing is to take shelter inside a building, according to Erwin. She said if there aren't buildings around then the next best place to be is inside a vehicle. If there is no shelter nearby, she said to find an open space and make yourself as small as possible.
"Just generally, if you hear thunder, seek shelter," Erwin said.
That's the lesson Parises and everyone else at Saturday's game learned.
"I can guarantee you ever parent that was there yesterday will take it seriously," she said.
Colorado is ranked third in the country for deaths caused by lightning. Since 1959, lightning has killed more people in the state than any other weather hazard.
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