A hand offering a purple ribbon to a police officer

Empowering Law Enforcement With Seizure Safety Training

Embarking on a transformative journey with the Epilepsy Foundation of America and the Public Health Institute in Atlanta, my mission was clear: to enhance seizure safety awareness within law enforcement. Representing my nonprofit, Saving Grace Epilepsy Foundation, I participated in immersive trainings in diverse settings, from jails to police departments.

Training police officers to recognize seizures

The training, orchestrated by the Epilepsy Foundation of America aimed to debunk common misconceptions surrounding epilepsy and seizures. Among the prevailing misunderstandings is the tendency to mistake a seizure for intoxication – an unfortunate misinterpretation that has significant consequences for those with epilepsy.

In the training, several officers really did not understand the dynamic of seizures

When epilepsy is misunderstood

If a person goes days without medication and doesn't have a seizure –do they really have epilepsy? When that particular question was raised, I immediately raised my hand. As someone who has been through several tests (including video EEG) where my medication was withheld for days to cause a seizure, I informed them that a seizure can actually happen a few days later. 

The officers were eager to learn as we highlighted the nuances of seizures, including the potential delay in occurrence.

Crafted to bridge the knowledge gap, the curriculum fostered a deeper understanding of epilepsy within the law enforcement community. The training covered various facets, equipping officers to distinguish a seizure from other conditions or behaviors through nuanced observation and effective communication.

I'm not drunk – it's a seizure!

Central to the training was addressing the misconception that a person having a seizure might be perceived as drunk or under the influence of drugs. Practical scenarios provided a hands-on learning experience, simulating real-life situations officers might encounter. This experiential approach aimed to reinforce theoretical knowledge, enhancing officers' confidence and competence in dealing with seizure-related incidents.

The significance of this training extends beyond individual encounters, contributing to fostering a more inclusive and informed law enforcement culture. By dispelling misconceptions, officers become advocates for individuals with epilepsy, promoting a safer and more supportive community.

Educating police and others about seizures is important

Reflecting on the experience, it's evident that education is a powerful catalyst for change. The initiative to provide comprehensive seizure safety training serves as a beacon of progress. Witnessing law enforcement professionals engage earnestly with epilepsy advocates underscores the potential impact on a broader scale.

My trip to Atlanta became a commitment to spreading awareness and effecting positive change. As I represent my nonprofit, the goal is to dismantle misconceptions and work towards a society where individuals with epilepsy are treated with dignity and understanding.

The journey to epilepsy awareness

In conclusion, the journey to Atlanta was not just a trip, it was a step towards a more empathetic and knowledgeable future in law enforcement. I look forward to initiating seizure safety training with local authorities and will keep you posted on the progress.

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