Seizure bill in South Carolina would train teachers, school staff to protect students if passed

The bill aims to train all school personnel to respond to students who have seizures whether they are in school, on a sports field or on the bus.
A local mom has picked up the fight to protect her daughter who has epilepsy.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 6:51 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A local mom has picked up the fight to protect her daughter who has epilepsy.

She says there is not enough training in the schools to help a student having a seizure. This mom says her daughter has been sent home or to the hospital multiple times after having a seizure when that just isn’t proper protocol.

That Is why she and another mom in the same boat wrote a bill with the aim of getting teachers and staff more information to combat the unpreparedness.

The bill aims to train all school personnel to respond to students who have seizures whether they are in school, on a sports field or on the bus.

The bill tries to do this by requiring three different steps for school staff.

Teachers, school staff and volunteers will have to take part in seizure first aid training. The training will help school staff recognize the different types of seizures so they can help the student quickly.

The school will have a Seizure Action Plan for each student with epilepsy. The plan will break down what to do if a child has a seizure. Also, it will teach all school staff how to administer life-saving rescue medication to end a seizure immediately.

Parent Lisa Stout, who has a student with epilepsy, says these steps combined could make a huge difference.

”It’s very emotional knowing that there’s going to be something in place to protect those children and those parents won’t have to deal with some of the issues we have dealt with,” says Stout.

Stout says her daughter Cassidy Doss has had them since she was young. Stout says Doss was having what are called absence seizures. This are usually brief twitches or staring spells.

Stout actually did not know Doss was having one until someone pointed it out. She, like many, thought seizures were only the ones where a person is jerking and tense.

”I mean it’s a rollercoaster. Constantly up and down. Good days, bad days,” says Stout.

Stout vividly remembers each terrifying moment when Doss would have seizures. It was not until later that her daughter started having tonic-clonic seizures, the ones most people think of when describing an episode.

”The first time she stopped breathing I went into panic mode and I forgot everything I knew. I barely was able to call 911 because it was so scary,” she says.

She knows if that is how she acted with experience and a plan for her daughter’s seizures, the teachers and staff at Doss’ school could respond the same way.

”With my daughter’s epilepsy, we’ve had a lot of really tough years. And to know that other parents and other children I see every day on these Facebook and other places like that that everybody’s at a loss,” explains Stout.

That is why she and co-author Amanda Campbell created the SC Seizure Safe School Act. Campbell also has a daughter, Raelyn, who has seizures. She was only seven when those started. Campbell says she took it upon herself to make every teacher aware of the seizures and how to treat them.

But with the bill, Campbell would not have to do that. It would require training for teachers, staff and volunteers so they can identify all types of seizures, understand a student’s seizure plan, and give life-saving medicine to a student having a seizure.

”We want the best for our children we want to protect them so we want to make sure that when they go somewhere like school we know there’s someone there that’s got there back,” says Stout.

Representative Doug Gilliam is the sponsor of this bill. It has many different co-sponsors. Gilliam says it was these moms, Campbell and Stout, calling him and telling their story that made him want to sponsor and introduce the bill.

Gilliam is a teacher himself. He says he has an epileptic student in his class but did not even know it until that student had moved to another grade. He calls hearing that “scary” because something could have happened and he would not know what to do.

That is why he says it is important to pass this legislation and that he is fighting to make sure his fellow representatives in the General Assembly understand that too.

“This will make our schools and our state much safer,” says Gilliam.

So parents can send their students with epilepsy to school and know they will be carefully cared for.

”It just makes me feel like ok. If I can’t help my daughter with her seizures and I can’t make that better I can do something to make her life a little easier and other children’s lives easier,” says Stout.

The bill has already passed in the House. It now is onto a Senate committee before going to the full Senate. If it passes both those hurdles, it will be sent to the Governor’s desk.

If passed, South Carolina could be the 13th state in the country to have a schools seizure bill. It is said to help an estimated 7100 students, according to active epilepsy data from the CDC.

Cassidy has a GoFundMe for a seizure dog that could help her.

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