Emergency treatment of injuries following lightning and electrical accidents

Der Anaesthesist
W Lederer, G Kroesen


The pattern of injuries following electrical accidents and the treatment by emergency teams differ depending on whether exposure was to a low-voltage or high-voltage power source or to a lightning bolt. Tissue damage results from the direct effect of current on cell membranes and from conversion of electrical energy into heat. Depending on the magnitude of electrical energy and the duration of exposure, cardiac dysrhythmia, damage to nerve tissue, extensive burns and shock may occur. Multi-system injury is frequently observed, either directly related to electrical shock or secondary to concurrent trauma. Extrication of victims from the energy field must be performed under strict observance of self-protection measures for the rescuers. In high-voltage incidents the rescuers must wait at a distance until the power supply has been turned off and demonstrably grounded. Analgesia, anxiolysis and administration of crystalloid fluids are needed, especially for injuries from high-voltage power sources. Severe burns of the face and neck call for early intubation and ventilation. Monitoring is performed with pulsoximetry, blood pressure measurement and ECG, giving highest priority to the unconscious patient with cardiac and respiratory a...Continue Reading


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