The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been an international phenomenon with the ALS Association reporting that it has raised more than $41 million in its past few weeks on social media. Unfortunately, a freak accident caused the otherwise harmless challenge to go horribly wrong for four Kentucky firefighters who ended up in the hospital when their truck’s ladder got too close to a power line during an ice bucket attempt.
On Thursday, the Campbellsville Fire Department teamed up with Campbellsville University’s marching band to complete an epic version of the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ABC News reported. The stunt involved the entire team getting sprayed with cold water from the fire truck’s ladder. Unfortunately the firemen were unaware of how dangerously close they were to a nearby power line. Although the ladder never actually touched the line, its high voltage was able to energize the ladder truck, electrocuting the firefights inside.
The electrocution luckily occurred once the ALS Ice Bucket challenge had ended and most of the students were gone. As the crewmen were packing up to leave, the top of the ladder became close enough to the power line to conduct electricity through the truck, shocking two firefighters on the ground and two inside the bucket, CNN reported. “We just heard a loud noise, a boom, you know, and the lights went out,” Raven Barnett, who was at the scene, told WLKY. “At that point I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s dead or something.’"
Captain Tony Grider, 41, and firefighter Simon Quinn, 22, were inside of the bucket and received the most grievous injuries. Currently, both are being treated at the University of Louisville Medical Center Burn Unit. “One is in critical condition, the other is fair. Both have been admitted to the hospital's Level 1 burn unit," said KentuckyOne Health spokesperson David McArthur. The other two firemen, Captain Steve Marrs, 37, and Alex Johnson, 28, were on the ground when they received the electric shock and were released from Taylor Regional Hospital after a brief observation.
Although the truck never physically touched any power line, talks with the company responsible for the line’s electricity shed light onto why the men sustained electrical shocks. “If you get within a distance of 3 to 4 feet, the energy that surrounds the high-voltage wire will actually arc over another object, in this case being the personnel occupying the bucket," said Hazlette. The accident also resulted in a loss of power for 4,500 households.
Electrical shocks are both painful and dangerous. Depending on the severity of the shock, an individual can experience severe shocks or problems with the body’s nervous system. The danger of an electrical shock also depends on its point of entry into the body. Electrical shocks that pass through the chest or head are considered significantly more dangerous as these can lead to internal damage and often result in cardiac arrest.