DORCHESTER, Mass. -- EMTs rushing to Sunday's Dorchester lightning strike at a soccer field praised bystanders yesterday who helped rescue the injured with scorched skin, legs completely numb and one man in cardiac arrest.
"You could see people laid out on the sidewalk, on the ground,'' said Bill DeYoung, one of the first EMTs to arrive at Franklin Field, where blinding rain scuttled a soccer game and nine people were injured by lightning.
"One patient was unconscious in cardiac arrest. We saw burns,'' he said. "Patients said they couldn't move. Their legs were numb.''
He said only some of the patients knew they had been struck by lightning.
The soccer players and spectators had gathered underneath a tree to seek shelter from the whipping rain as cracks of thunder reverberated and lightning lit up the sky.
Seven of the nine people injured during the lightning strike are still hospitalized, including one man who went into cardiac arrest. Four patients were in intensive care yesterday, said Rich Serino, chief of Boston Emergency Medical Services. Another patient was transported to a hospital, but not treated. The patients, aged 13 to 44, were taken to five hospitals.
Recordings of 911 calls and EMS radio communications capture a scene of both confusion and calm.
"Everybody is on the floor,'' one panicked caller says. "Bring an ambulance please.'' Another 911 caller tells an EMS operator that someone has been injured, but does not know why.
"They are performing mouth to mouth and giving him chest compressions ... on the sidewalk,'' he says calmly.
Radio communications between ambulance 3 and EMS dispatch are at times frantic.
"We have at least one in arrest,'' an EMT tells dispatch. "It's heavily flooded.''
Once inside an ambulance, paramedic Roger Aeillo discovered two of his three patients did not speak English. One was bilingual and translated for him.
"They all described the same feeling,'' he told reporters yesterday. "They all had the same complaint - you feel like you've been shocked.''
EMTs yesterday praised bystanders who worked as a team with responders despite the wild weather.
"There were a lot of soccer players carrying patients toward us,'' said EMT Stan Majorowski, 24. "It was frantic. It was really loud. There were a lot of people screaming. ... It's not something that I'm going to get out of my head soon.''
YOUR VIEW: Sunday's lightning strike near a Dorchester soccer field has readers responding with accolades and advice:
"Another great job by Boston EMS!'' - Fenway Frankee
"Another reason to take thunderstorms seriously ... and I don't use the telephone either during these storms.'' - Ellen
"In Senior Babe Ruth, common sense does prevail. The rule is one lightning strike and the game is off and everyone under cover (not under a tree.)'' - Docomost
"The storm passed us all, they had notice enough to all pile into cars.'' - Tracey
"I hope for a speedy recovery ...'' - BB
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BOLT`S BURN: Sunday's lightning storm damaged a tree on Talbot Avenue and injured nine in Dorchester. At top, left, EMT Stan Majorowski, right, describes the rescue scene as Melvin Guante, center, looks on and Bill DeYoung wipes his brow. STAFF PHOTOS BY MATT STONE