Spotlight on Training Law Enforcement and First Responders in Utah and Oklahoma

Epilepsy Foundation Utah trains firefighters in seizure recognition and first aid.

Epilepsy Foundation of Utah Executive Director Margo Thurman leads a training.

Epilepsy News From:

Monday, July 29, 2019

This month, we shine a spotlight on the Epilepsy Foundation of Utah (EFUT) and Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma (EFOK) for their work providing seizure first aid trainings. These two local Foundations trained over 2,000 people combined in seizure recognition and first aid in 2018-2019. For this Local Office Spotlight, we are highlighting their training of local law enforcement and first responders.

Epilepsy Foundation of Utah

The Epilepsy Foundation of Utah joined the Foundation as a chapter in April 2016. Before they joined the Epilepsy Foundation family, they were already providing trainings throughout the state.

Since 2011, EFUT has trained over 14,000 individuals in seizure recognition and first aid.

From June 2018-June 2019, EFUT trained 1,420 individuals, including students, school faculty, caseworkers, juvenile court staff, and law enforcement officers. This includes over 100 police officers and court officers and staff.

EFUT Executive Director Margo Thurman and volunteer Sarah Hansen both have backgrounds in education and provide the trainings throughout the state.

"The training that Margo provided for the department was very well received by our officers," said an officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "The training has increased officers' awareness of and ability to recognize seizure disorders and how presentations differs. Officers also learned the best way to render aid to a person who is having a seizure, keep them safe, and not compound the problem."

Seeing Results from Training

A man living with epilepsy was in court for a legal matter and had a seizure while there. Margo was in attendance.

"As he was walking into court, he started to have a convulsive seizure," said Margo. "An officer began to ask him his name and what he was doing while he was seizing. The other officer in the court told his colleague that the man couldn't answer because of a seizure. He said, 'I remember the training and I know what we are supposed to do. We are here to make sure he is ok.'"

Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma

The Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma's law enforcement training is a Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) certified program.

From 2017-2019, EFOK trained over 900 law enforcement and first responders in seizure recognition and first aid.

Executive Director of EFOK Jenniafer Walters provides all the trainings supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes the law enforcement and first responders programs, as well as trainings for school personnel, senior caregivers, and advanced practice providers. (Learn more about our training and education programs supported by the CDC.)

Jenniafer also uses a virtual reality tool with support from UCB, Inc., that simulates what it's like to have a seizure. The tool has inspired important questions related to epilepsy treatment on an ambulance. After using the tool, participants at the training share their own experience around epilepsy. Many participants also say the tool helped them change the way they think about epilepsy and seizures.

"I have observed the EMT training delivered by Jenniafer over the past two years," said CNS Medical Science Partner Katrina Paumier PhD of UCB, Inc. "Jenniafer is extremely competent and does a thorough job of delivering the information about epilepsy safety. Adding the virtual reality of having a seizure experience and the post-ictal state has taken the training to another level."

In one office that received the training, an individual had a seizure shortly after the training concluded. Everyone who attended the training knew immediately what to do and how to help.

Partnership Expanding Reach

EFOK also partners with Tulsa Tech, where the program is now available for students studying to become EMS professionals.

"Partnering with Tulsa Tech is an honor," said Jenniafer. "Our EMS training is now part of their program for students. All the students attend this training before they graduate and hit the streets.

More from Utah and Oklahoma

Thank you to the Epilepsy Foundation of Utah and Epilepsy Foundation of Oklahoma for training law enforcement and first responders in seizure recognition and first aid!

Authored by: Liz Dueweke MPH on 7/2019
Reviewed by: Jody Kakacek PhD on 7/2019

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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