‘Hero Nurse’ Honored for Saving Teen Lightning Victim’s Life

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DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Some trained heroes and good samaritans in our community have something in common. They are being honored by the American Red Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township for their acts of bravery and life-saving decisions. These men and women exemplify heroism for their actions at the scene of such things as a fire, a carbon monoxide incident and even a missing man search. For one hero, it’s what she did on vacation that saved the life of a teenager.

Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Nurse Cassandra Thomas still gets emotional thinking about that day last summer. “I just worried almost as if he was my own child at that point.”

On vacation with her family in Clearwater, Florida in July, the Hazle Township woman had just left the beach because of an approaching thunderstorm. Safe on the 16th floor of a condo, she watched as lightning struck. “It was hard to tell if it struck the water or the beach because it was raining so hard.” 

Soon she spotted one person sitting up and another not moving then summoned her husband. “I said call 911. I said they got struck by lightning.” 

With the elevator not moving quickly enough, she raced down 16 flights of stairs and through the storm to find two teens. The worse injured of the two, 15-year-old Cameron Poimboeuf, was face down not breathing with no pulse. “I rolled him over and his face, his mouth was full of sand so I just started compressions.”

Other help arrived and with Cassandra leading the way they moved the unconscious teen to a safe area to continue resuscitation efforts. “He finally had a shockable rhythm so once he was shocked he had a pulse.”

In the days that followed, the teen experienced a miraculous recovery thanks to one brave nurse. Cameron’s father, Kevin Poimboeuf, said during a news conference at the time, “My family is extremely grateful for this guardian angel who was there to witness this and to give CPR to my son.”

Even though the training Cassandra received to prepare her to be a nurse was to never enter a scene that was not safe or secure, she just couldn’t let that stop her the day lightning struck. “I had to do it. I absolutely had to do it and I would do it a thousand times again,” said Cassandra.

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