Epilepsy Foundation offers online Seizure First Aid Certification

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Posted at 3:53 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 16:42:39-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - You think it won't happen to you - until it does. Emergencies can pop up suddenly and you never expect you'll have to be the one to jump in and help.

When it comes to seizures, the Epilepsy Foundation is helping the community prepare for unpredictable moments. Moments that Lowell Evans has dealt with since he was 20 years old.

Now the Eastern Virginia Regional Director for the Epilepsy Foundation, Evans said, "This year will be my 40th year in November with epilepsy. I was labeled quickly. I mean, I went from being an asset to a liability - when I knew I could still do the jobs and be productive and everything else."

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that can cause unpredictable seizures. A seizure can happen to anyone, at any time, anywhere.

Gina Washington understands that well. In the Epilepsy Foundation, she is the Regional Director for Northern and Northwestern Virginia.

Her daughter, Trisha Ramsey, started having seizures when she was 6 years old, but wasn't diagnosed with epilepsy until she was 10.

"Typically, she has two types of seizures: Complex-partial, where she will just start smacking her lips, saying words that don’t make any sense. She also has tonic-clonic as well," Washington said.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. In Virginia, there are 80,000 people of all different races and genders who have epilepsy.

There are also multiple types of seizures that range in severity and how long they last.

"Do you go to the store and you see 30 people in the store? One in 26 is going to have epilepsy, so to be prepared you know is better [for everyone]," Washington said.

To help prepare the community, the Epilepsy Foundation has stepped up their online resources. They now offer online certification in first aid to help people with seizures.

Brandy Fureman, the Chief Outcomes Officer at the foundation, said, "It's about a 75-minute training. It's live online with an instructor and you do a pre-test and a post-test so that we can help assess whether we've been successful in teaching those important basics of seizure recognition and response."

Since March, she reports that more than 2,000 people in all 50 states have been certified.

Fureman said by knowing your three S's (Stay, Safe, Side), you can help save a life.

"Stay with the person until they come back to themselves - until the seizure is over and they come back to consciousness. Keep them Safe, so if they are about to fall you can gently help lower them to the ground; you can protect their head. If the person is on the ground, when it’s possible, you want to turn them on their Side, and that helps to keep the airway is clear."

Washington also added that understanding the warning signs and types of seizures can help save families and hospitals money.

"If [someone has] the training and they feel well-equipped with what to do - if that seizure is under five minutes and you know that they have epilepsy - then you don’t have to make that call and you don’t have to put that burden on an extra expense on our healthcare systems or on our families," she said.

Epilepsy isn't a one-size-fits-all condition, but knowing the basics can help make a difference in the classroom, in the grocery store and in the lives of people like Lowell Evans and Trisha Ramsey.

"My goal is to have people believe that they can overcome epilepsy. They can make it [just like I did]," Evans said.