LIGHTNING STRIKE…. FIREFIGHTER DOWN!!

I was at the Fire Station preparing for the big thunderstorms coming through. Shortly after the storm started the phones start ringing for lightning strikes and alarms going off, trees down, etc. All at once of course. I was standing out in the truck bays when the first in house tone sounded for a call. We (4 of us) walked over to the gear racks to put our gear on and jump on the trucks to head out on the first call. All the truck bay doors were open and it was raining cats and dogs, with lightning everywhere. While I was getting my gear on a bolt of lightning hit our station and went right up through all the steel web trusses in the ceiling making a very loud machine gun noise as it jumped from beam to beam. It was so bright it was hard to explain. I hit the deck and covered my head not knowing exactly at that second what was happening. As soon as the noise stopped I knew it was a LIGHTNING STRIKE! I got up on my feet and turned around to find the paramedic who was just standing next to me on the ground staring up at the ceiling and not moving. He got hit by the lightning. He was leaning on the ambulance to put on his gear and created a path to ground through himself. We figure the lighting came down through the cord that the ambulance was plugged into the building. We treated him instantly and got him in an ambulance and off to the hospital. He is doing well now. But the strike took out our communications center blowing the radios literally to pieces. Took out our generator, phones, cell phone tower, main console dispatch radio, back up dispatch radio and rendered one of our two ambulances Out of Service due to electrical problems. Talk about a communication nightmare!! No phones, no radio, just the handheld portables and the truck radios which were all limited due to the repeaters being taken out also. We got a couple towns around us to do our dispatching until we got a temporary radio up and running. I got on an engine and drove out out on some calls. It was pretty scary knowing your heading out into the thick of things, not knowing if you’ll be able to get in touch with someone if you need more help or not. The whole time out that day I was thinking….I was only 2 feet away from him…how did it miss me. Just goes to show you that you never know what can happen at any second of the day! Take cover when you see lightning and be aware of how you are grounded or not grounded!!!