Why teachers need to learn seizure first aid
If you follow this blog or you know anything about the statistics regarding epilepsy, you know that epilepsy isn’t rare. 1 in 10 will have a seizure in their life and 1 in 26 will be diagnosed with epilepsy. If we consider that the average school in America has approximately 526 students in it, that would mean that on average each school has about 20 kids who are currently attending that have been diagnosed with epilepsy. With numbers this large, you would think the school system would prioritize teaching the school staff how to recognize and handle seizures. Although this is slowly changing, in the majority of states, this is still not a priority. But why is it so important for teachers to know seizure first aid? Frankly, it can be a matter of life and death, and I’d like to share my experience in high school to show what happens when teachers are unprepared.
My high school was made aware of my epilepsy from day one. We provided them information on what to do in case I had a seizure, and to put it quite clearly, no one followed through and learned seizure first aid. My first seizure I had at school was a grand mal seizure. The teacher was completely unprepared and did just about everything wrong. My head wasn’t protected, so I hit my head; they didn’t time the seizure. I was actively seizing for over 15 minutes before my friend stepped in and administered my emergency medication because none of the teachers knew how to do it. Since I was actively shaking for 30 minutes, no one noticed I also had an absence seizure. We had many instances where my seizures went unnoticed or untreated. Please note that after 5 minutes of actively seizing, it is considered a medical emergency because your brain starts to die. You can imagine that I’ve had lots of long-term damage and unnecessary hospital visits due to my school’s lack of education.
If my class teachers knew what to do, they could have noticed my absence seizures before they became a medical emergency and stopped my tonic-clonic seizures with my emergency medication. Sure, some schools are much better at dealing with epilepsy than mine were, but this was just my personal experience. Instead of another person suffering like I did, teachers need to be taught how to recognize seizures and deal with them. Currently, a Seizure Safe School Act (we have talked about this in other posts) is trying to be passed at that state-by-state level. This bill could be the solution to this issue, so if you are passionate, please write to your representatives to make them aware of this bill!