N.J. police officer, EMT saves worker struck by lightning
Woodbridge Officer R.J. McPartland said the man had no pulse and burn marks on his hands
By Jeff Goldman
WODBRIDGE, N.J. — The 39-year-old Woodbridge public works employee struck by lightning Wednesday while doing field maintenance at a township middle school remains hospitalized in stable condition on Thursday, an official said.
Woodbridge police Officer R.J. McPartland happened to be en route to the middle school from adjacent John F. Kennedy Memorial High School and raced to the worker’s aid moments after his co-worker called 911.
“We’re hearing that he’s doing well, that he’s awake and that is definitely a good feeling,” said McPartland, who formerly worked as a firefighter and has been a police officer for nearly four years. “I’m just happy that I was close and we were able to get to him as fast as we did. I’ve known him for years and have worked side by side with him.”
McPartland as well as Woodbridge police Director Robert Hubner joined Mayor John McCormac and township Public Works Director George Brew at a Wednesday afternoon press conference outside the middle school in which all expressed relief that the married father of one was going to recover.
McPartland said when he arrived, the man didn’t have a pulse and that it was “apparent he was struck by lightning” after seeing burn marks on his hands.
“He was still holding one of the (field lining) machines,” McPartland said.
McPartland immediately began CPR and with the help of other emergency workers got a defibrillator hooked up to the man before he was brought to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
“We were talking to him the whole time,” McPartland said. “Once we got him in the ambulance and he got a pulse back, he did slowly begin to regain consciousness.”
Workers normally take shelter in vehicles during severe storms, but Brew said the burst of lightning surprised them as they were lining a soccer field.
“I spoke with him before them ambulance left,” Brew said. “I’ve spoken to his wife and the report I got from a co-worker at the hospital said he was speaking to them as well. We’re all family here. He’s a good guy.”
McPartland said he’s administered CPR to other patients before, but Wednesday was the first time he’s dealt with a lightning strike.
“We do a lot of training all year,” he said. “I kind of just feel this is what we were trained to do.”