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BUS Program Trains School Bus Drivers in Seizure First Aid

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Working as a school bus driver isn’t easy. Drivers need to navigate all kinds of traffic in all kinds of weather, check multiple mirrors multiple times, and do all of the above while listening to a lot of noise. Yet in Georgia, many school bus drivers have taken on an additional responsibility: watching out for young passengers with epilepsy.

In the past five years, thousands of Georgia school bus drivers have been trained in seizure response, thanks to the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia (EFGA). Kiana Lawrence is the Programs Coordinator at the EFGA and oversees Better Understanding Seizures (BUS), a program created to help school bus drivers meet the needs of students with epilepsy.

Lawrence began this work because she was convinced that the drivers needed more than the school epilepsy training programs offered. She explained, “With constant motion and limited space, the environment of a school bus is completely different than that of a classroom.”

Yet some points of training remain the same. Lawrence always begins by explaining that there are many different types of seizures. For example, she teaches the drivers to notice the subtle signs of a child’s absence seizure, such as staring off, missing his stop or not responding to her name. In these cases, Lawrence reports, “We stress that once drivers get to the child’s stop, that child needs to be left with a responsible adult.”

While tonic-clonic (“grand mal”) seizures are easier to identify, they require a very different response. According to Georgia school policy, drivers need to pull the bus to the side of the road and contact dispatch to call 911.

However, there’s a catch. In rural Georgia, an ambulance can take up to 25 minutes to arrive. In these cases, Lawrence instructs drivers to:

  • Get the other children to another section of the bus
  • Stretch the affected child on his or her side across the seat bench, head toward the aisle
  • Make sure the area is clear of books or other objects
  • Put a jacket or soft back pack under the child’s head
  • Stay with the child until the ambulance arrives
  • Assist the child to a normal sitting position and offer reassurance, should the seizure end before help arrives

Thanks to EFGA and Lawrence’s efforts, trained school bus drivers are now more likely to be prepared — and the children in their care more likely to be safe.

 

At present, only the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia offers the BUS program. Still, Lawrence is willing to share materials with other EF affiliates. The Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia also has a school bus driver training program. Watch a video on it here.

 

August 30, 2016 | Categories: General

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