A response written by Lee Weisbrod’s mother, Nancy Weisbrod, was recently printed in The Community Life after the printing of their article “When Lightning Strikes.”
Below is the response as it appeared in The Community Life last week.
After reading Jessica Humphrey’s article in the Community Life this week, I felt I needed to respond. When it was first sent to me, I glanced at the picture of Lee and Jess, skimmed the article and closed the paper. I wasn’t prepared to see him there and it felt too painful to continue. Later that evening, I felt compelled to read it and when I did, I realized it was something I had not read before despite the fact that Jess and I communicate fairly regularly. It’s very hard for me to read about my son, Lee, and what happened to him. When I read words like “passed away,” “first responders,” “death,” “severe burns” – I’m brought painfully back to July 22, 2006 and I cringe at each phrase and close my eyes in a weak attempt to block the images from my mind.
I am, however, so very proud of Jessica and happy for her that she has been able in some way to move forward through her intense grief and attempt to make the difference that both honors Lee’s life and raises awareness to perhaps save a life. Clearly raising awareness about lightning safety is a worthwhile and important cause. Awareness also needs to be raised about teenagers and grief. I have watched Lee’s friends through a horrific journey at a tender age and although I believe they will all be okay, perhaps there are ways of counseling our young adults in the immediate aftermath of experiencing this type of personal tragedy. For the unfortunate parents and siblings who are hit with this kind of disaster, there are support groups like The Compassionate Friends.
Jess is fortunate to have found an outlet in her writing. Not everyone is as gifted in that way but still need to be encouraged to find a way to deal with their own journey. Professionals trained specifically to work with young people in this type of situation would be welcomed addition to our school system. The effects of the kids are both immediate and long lasting and perhaps support groups that target their needs might be beneficial as well.
At the end of the day with all that has passed and all the damage that has been done, “lucky” is not a word I use to describe my life but I do feel blessed to have Jessica in my life, who is not only my new friend but a gifted writer passionate in her attempt to learn and educate others about lightning safety. It is Jessica who bears witness to the life of a best friend and son taken too soon.
When Steve Marshburn, Sr. arrived to work one day in 1969, he didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to occur.
Marshburn, Sr. was working a typical shift at a bank inside the teller window when his normal day turned tragic.
“The drive-thru window was at my backside,” explained Marshburn, Sr. “The drive-thru speaker was not grounded; therefore, lightning entered the bank via the speaker – breaking my back.”
Doctors gave Marshburn, Sr. six months to live; however, thirty-one years and thirty-eight surgeries later, he is still alive and fighting.
In the aftermath of the strike, Marshburn, Sr. began researching the phenomena that threatened his life – lightning.
“There was no literature in the medical journals as how to threat lightning strike survivors,” said Marshburn, Sr. “My wife and I began contacting those we would hear about that were survivors of this traumatic, undocumented injury and too began charting the injuries related directly to this type of injury. The injuries paralleled with each person we spoke with. We knew there was more to this than simply coincidence.”
It was that moment of euphoria that sparked the idea of creating a community of both lightning strike victims and their families.
Marshburn, Sr. founded The Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International, Inc. (LS&ESSI) shortly thereafter. Continue reading
Filed under News, Profile
The lightning detection system in Woodcliff Lake has been both installed and tested as of recently.
In addition to installing the system, Woodcliff Lake has passed a town ordinance which declares that everyone must immediately get off the field if the system is activated.
Citizens will know the system is activated when a lightning strike within 8 miles sets off the siren. The siren will be activated every 30 seconds accompanied by flashing strobes.
An ‘all clear’ sign will be given when it is safe to return to the sports fields/recreation areas. The ‘all clear’ sign will consist of a different sounding siren.
This system is very similar to other systems installed in surrounding Bergen County towns.
Numerous mayors, recreation facilities administrators, and town officials have informed me of their plans to install lightning detection or have informed me of existing lightning detection systems.
Here’s a quick update -
It’s hard to be the parent, teacher, coach, or umpire that has to call the game and end the fun; however, someone has to do it when lightning is in the area.
Schools have a high concentration of students, teachers, and the public at any given time. Specifically individuals are present during outdoor school events such as football games, track meets, and graduations.
In order to prevent bodily injury, school administrations must be aware of lightning safety. Further schools should provide a specialized lightning protection program.
A lightning protection program should consist of:
- Constantly updated weather reports. Weather reports must be reviewed prior to outdoor events and activities this way an educated decision of whether to postpone or cancel activities can be made promptly.
- A chain of command. By having a chain of command present, decisions can be made effectively. When a decision to evacuate is made, the chain of command must be the leaders to ensure safety.
- Have an emergency response plan. An emergency response plan should be in place. In addition, it should be known by all individuals present. Drills (similar to fire drills) would ensure knowledge and practice of the plan in place.
- Name “safe places.” Students and teachers must know where the closest “safe places” are in relation to outdoor fields.
- Learn CPR. Students and teachers should learn CPR in order to assist an individual struck by lightning.
* The tips where combiled based on available research on sites such as The National Weather Service, The National Severe Storm Laboratory, and The National Lightning Safety Institute.
Recently Mahwah placed a bid on lightning detection equipment which will add Mahwah to the growing list of Bergen County towns with lightning protection in place.
The bid for Mahwah’s lightning detection will be awarded November 13 (this Thursday), according to Mayor Richard Martel.
Once the bid is awarded, Mahwah will begin the installation process. The detection systems will be installed at the township pool in addition to other recreational areas.
Check back in the coming days for more information regarding Mahwah’s lightning initiative.
Lightning is highly dangerous. With a little bit of common sense, you can solidify your safety. “When thunder roars, go indoors” is the mantra for The National Weather Service. It should become yours too!
Here are some safety tips:
- Keep your eyes on the skies. Thunderstorms typically develop in the spring and summer months; however, they can (and do) occur year round. Towering cumulus clouds are the first sign of a developing thunderstorm.
- 10 miles is the magic number. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from area where there is rain present. Thunder can be heard from 10 miles away. If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance and must seek shelter.
- Be a leader. Most lightning deaths occur in the summer months when outdoor sports are in full swing. Stop activities at the first roar of thunder to guarantee enough time to get to shelter. Develop a written plan all staff are aware of and must follow, such as The Hillsdale Football Association has done.
- When indoors, stay away from electrical equipment. Stay off corded phones and computers, which put you in direct contact with electricity. Stay away from plumbing such as pools, tubs, and showers.
- Wait 30 minutes. Waiting may be a drag but it could potentially save your life. Wait 30 minutes after the last strike before going outside again.
- Help a lightning strike victim. If a person you are with is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. With proper treatment, most victims survive lightning strikes. Most common complications are cardiac arrest, burns, and nerve damage. You are in no danger helping/touching a lightning victim; the charge will not pass to you.
Filed under News, Science
Late last week, I was interviewed by a journalist from The Community Life, Pascack Valley’s newspaper source. After learning about my blogging assignment, the journalist wanted to further discuss Lee Weisbrod, the lightning detection systems, my blog, and my future hopes.
Today the article featuring the mission of my blog was published in The Community Life.
Read the article here: When Lightning Strikes by Erin Patricia Griffiths.
Filed under News, Personal