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History of the Lightning Data Center

Dr. Michael Cherington founded the Lightning Data Center at St. Anthony Hospital in 1992. We are an interdisciplinary group of professionals from diverse backgrounds who have an interest in the lightning phenomena, the treatment of lightning injury, and the prevention of these injuries. Our group includes a wide array of medical practitioners, meteorologists, engineers, photographers, and other experts. We bring these perspectives to bear on any and all topics related to lightning in a discussion group format.

The events leading to the formation of the group stemmed from Dr. Cherington's practice as a neurologist at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, Colorado. Sometime in the late 1980s, Dr. Cherington saw his first lightning patient. The case sufficiently interested him that he published an account of it in the Journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine in August of 1990 (Volume 18, number 8).

Meteorologist and lightning researcher Ron Holle, and electrical engineer Ronald Larson saw Dr. Cherington's article. Both gentlemen contacted Dr. Cherington separately, and so it was that he agreed to meet with them at a Wendy's Restaurant in January of 1992. The meeting proved to be interesting for all three men, and that evening Dr. Cherington told his wife Nancy about it. She asked him, "So, what're you gonna do about it?" He replied, "Do about what?" to which she responded, "How often do you get together with a couple of meteorologists? I think there is something there!"

With these words ringing in his ears, Dr. Cherington approached St. Anthony Hospital administration to ask for resources to host a more formal meeting. They approved the plan, and so it was that the first meeting was convened at St. Anthony Hospital on Friday, February 7, 1992 under the tentative name "Lightning Task Force."

Twelve participants at that meeting discussed whether it might be worth forming an ongoing group to discuss any and all topics related to lightning. It was decided that this was a useful idea, and that the group should convene again in two months' time. Dr. Cherington later wrote, "I left this meeting with an enormous sense of enthusiasm for our purposes and our group."

The following participants attended the inaugeral meeting:

Kathy Butzin, staff of St. Anthony Hospital

Jody Chambers, surgical staff of St. Anthony Hospital

Michael Cherington, neurologist at St. Anthony Hospital and founder of the group

Debbi Clark, staff of St. Anthony Hospital

Ray Coniglio, staff of St. Anthony Hospital

Matthew Fulton, staff of St. Anthony Hospital

Ron Holle, research meteorologist and lightning researcher from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Ron Larson, electrical engineer

Raul Lopez, research meteorologist and lightning researcher from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Terry Rudolph, electrical engineer

Peter Vellman, chief of Emergency Department at St. Anthony Hospital

Charles Wright, former executive with Public Service Company (which later became Xcel Energy)

Dr. Michael Cherington was chairman for most of the meetings between 1992 and 2006, when he retired from the chairman position. In most cases, Dr. Phil Yarnell chaired the meetings in his absence. Since January of 2007 Steve Clark, Mike Foley, Greg Stewart and Ken Langford have shared the chairmanship.

By June of 1992 the group was formally known as the Lightning Data Center. This name was meant to reflect our interest in gathering and comparing lightning information, and to generate data on the topic.

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