Fire capt., paramedic credited with saving 2 lightning-strike victims

Capt. Darin Peterson and Eric Watkins jumped into action after an 18-year-old and a 4-year-old were struck by lightning

By FireRescue1 Staff

SHERIDAN, Ill. — A fire captain and a paramedic are credited with saving the lives of two lightning-strike victims at a 4th of July celebration.

Chicago Tribune reported that St. Charles Fire Capt. Darin Peterson was in his car with his wife watching a fireworks show when he saw a lightning bolt hit a tree.

“I felt the shock and the hair on my neck and arms stood up,” he said. “I knew someone had to be injured.”

Peterson jumped into action and found an 18-year-old male in cardiac arrest after having been struck by the lightning bolt.

Peterson began performing CPR on the teen, and Plainfield Fire Protection District paramedic Eric Watkins, who had also seen the lightning bolt from his vehicle, was soon by his side.

While treating the victim, the responders heard what Watkins described as a “blood-curdling scream,” and discovered that a 4-year-old had also been struck by lightning.

“It was surreal,” Watkins said. “That is the type of call that nobody wants to be on.”

Peterson ran to help the child while Watkins continued treating the teen, and both said they were just doing what they were trained to do.

“We’re not heroes,” Peterson said. “We’re everyday citizens who every third day wear a blue suit that says we do this, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do this on our days off. This could happen at any time. At any point in your life you could run across someone who needs your help.”


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