A Traffic controller has been hit by lightning and more than 12,000 left without power in Queensland as severe storms lashed the east coast.
The woman, aged in her 50s, was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital after reports a pole she was holding was struck by lightning, Queensland Ambulance Service said.
A teenager was injured after a tree fell on him in Brisbane, and was taken to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital with hip and leg injuries.
Destructive winds and golf ball-sized hail battered the state capital on Wednesday afternoon, with homes in Logan City, Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast blacked out.
Wild weather has also hit the area just south of the NSW border, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning of possible flash flooding and issuing severe storm warnings for Queensland, NSW and Victoria, where there are grave fears of a repeat of the “thunderstorm asthma” tragedy.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy likened the state’s asthma crisis to “150 bombs going off at once”. She said emergency services were not prepared to respond to an extreme weather event of that scale as the death toll reached eight people, with another patient still in a critical condition following the storm on Monday last week. “We’ve just never encountered anything of the scale and the scope (of that),” she said.
Ms Hennessy said the thunderstorm asthma had raised the interest of public health experts across the world as they tried to figure out how best to respond to the “perfect storm” of a change in weather conditions with high pollen levels.
“This was an unprecedented and unpredictable incident where over 8500 people required care,” she said. “It’s absolutely imperative that we learn every lesson we can.”
The deadly thunderstorm asthma attack was the worst recorded in the world.
Victoria’s chief health officer advised asthma sufferers to remain vigilant with lashing winds about to hit the state’s east. Ambulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker told 3AW that people may be told to drive critically ill family and friends to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance and get lifesaving treatment too late.
“We routinely don’t recommend (to) people that they take critically ill people to hospital themselves (but) this is a different type of emergency,” he said today. “We’re looking at … giving the community real-time information to enable them to make an informed decision about what they do.”
Paramedics saved “countless lives” during the freak storm, but the families of the eight who died deserve to know changes would be made, he said. Grandfather Ranjith Peiris, of Roxburgh Park, has been named by media outlets as one of the latest victims.
Epworth respiratory physician Michael Sutherland says last week’s thunderstorm asthma event was the most severe ever recorded anywhere in the world. “The previous worst episode was in London in 1994 with 640 cases (and) only five to ICU (intensive care units),” Dr Sutherland told 3AW on Wednesday. Every available ambulance in Melbourne was sent out on calls during the storm as more than 30 were admitted to intensive care.
The state’s ambulance chief said people were waiting too long for paramedics to arrive during the freak event on Monday last week, the worst ever recorded.
Meanwhile, wild weather moving into Brisbane could also batter the Gold Coast, Coolangatta, Ipswich and Caboolture.
The bureau said a large and dangerous storm is now moving through the Boonah and Kooralbyn areas, heading northeast. Damaging winds and large hailstones were likely in Logan and Ipswich areas.
Southern parts of Australia could be hit by fast-moving and potentially deadly grassfires after the wet winter that’s left dangerous fuel loads behind.
Chief health officer Charles Guest has told asthma sufferers to keep their medication close at hand with storms predicted for Gippsland and the state’s northeast in the afternoon.
“Thunderstorms, combined with pollen in the air, can cause an increase in asthma symptoms, hay fever and breathing difficulties,” Professor Guest said in a statement.
The Department of Health and Human Services says Wednesday’s storms are not expected to be another thunderstorm asthma event, but it is an important chance for people prone to asthma or hayfever to make sure they are prepared.
Online Source: News.com.au.