Here is an encouraging letter I received from the Department of Health & Human Services…
Dear Ms. Johnson,
Thank you for your personal message regarding the training of law enforcement officers and other public safety personnel who respond to people experiencing epileptic seizures. Laura Petrou, the Chief of Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), forwarded your letter to me. You have identified a serious and difficult problem, and we share your concerns. While the vast majority of law enforcement officers and emergency response personnel provide appropriate assistance to people with epilepsy, we are aware of instances when a seizure was not recognized as being responsible for a person’s unusual behavior, confusion, and difficulty cooperating.
To address this concern, the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working in partnership with the national Epilepsy Foundation to develop and promote a national education program to train law enforcement officers and emergency responders to improve their recognition of epileptic seizures and to intervene safely and appropriately. This effort has led to the First Responders Training Program, which includes training curriculum on seizure recognition and first aid for law enforcement, police cadets and emergency response personnel. For more information on these programs please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/law-enforcement.htm The CDC is working to increase and promote the use of these and similar curricula among police and first responder agencies throughout the country.
In addition, HHS and Vision 20/20 (a coalition of epilepsy advocacy organizations) have recently commissioned the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on the public health dimensions of epilepsy. The focus of the study will be to recommend priorities in public health, healthcare and human services, and health literacy and public awareness for the epilepsies and to propose strategies to address these priorities.
The CDC also offers a variety of resources and toolkits for the general public about epilepsy to help build awareness. Nevertheless, we are aware that further measures are needed and, in partnership with various advocacy and professional organizations, continue to look for ways to assure proper recognition and treatment of epileptic seizures by law enforcement officials and emergency personnel.
If you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact the CDC Epilepsy Program at 770-488-5464.
Patricia H. Price, D.O.
Epilepsy Program Coordinator
Division of Adult and Community Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention