June 25, 2013

Chief: 23 N.H. scouts calm after burns from lightning

LYNNE TUOHY / The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire fire chief who helped triage 23 Boy Scouts who suffered burns during a campground lightning strike says they were "incredibly calm" throughout their ordeal.

"No one was screaming or yelling. Whatever we asked them to do, they did," Belmont Fire Chief David Parenti said Tuesday.

Parenti said the scouts, ranging in age from 12 to 17, had burns of varying degrees of severity from Monday's lightning strike. No one was directly hit, but some scouts and three adults complained of tingling and burning sensations, Boy Scouts spokesman Greg Osborn said.

The lightning struck during an evening storm at Camp Bell, a remote campground of the Griswold Hidden Valley Scout Reservation in Gilmanton. Camp Bell has no structures in which the scouts could have sought shelter, Parenti said. They were under a canopy when the lightning struck nearby. The scouts were seen by a camp nurse, who advised that they be checked out at a hospital as a precautionary measure.

Parenti said he was most concerned about six of them whose burns involved the chest area. He said at least two of those six, who were hospitalized, have been released.

Parenti said lightning burns typically have an entry and an exit wound, which helped the firefighters and EMTs triaging them to identify whose injury was of most concern.

"What happened was, with some of the kids, you could see the burn come into the hand, up the arm, across the chest and out the other arm," Parenti said. "That's an entrance and exit that crosses the chest, definitely."

The Belmont Fire Department is staffed 24 hours a day and has 12-point heart monitors, which were used to assess the scouts' conditions.

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