Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation to ensure that children who suffer from seizures can get emergency medication to stop the seizure while they are at school. House Bill 76 was sponsored by state Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, and was carried in the Senate by state Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton.
The legislation was made a policy priority of the Alabama Epilepsy Foundation. Sara Franklin is the executive director of community engagement and partnership for the Alabama Epilepsy Foundation
“On behalf of the students living with epilepsy across Alabama, I want to thank Governor Ivey for signing the Seizure Safe Schools Act today,” Franklin said. “It is important that schools are well-equipped with the tools necessary to provide a safe and enriching environment, and this bill passage raises awareness and will implement a uniform standard of care and response across our state so that students have access to the care they need and reach their full academic potential.”
“There are approximately 3.4 million people living with epilepsy in the United States, 54,100 of which are in Alabama and of those more than 7,500 are children,” Franklin said. “Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is still highly misunderstood by the public. The Epilepsy Foundation’s goal is to build an empathetic next generation who welcome people living with epilepsy as their friends, neighbors, and future colleagues and who are prepared to help them by knowing proper seizure first aid.”
The bill allows voluntary medication assistants to administer the medication.
Beasley explained during the Senate debate: “The Legislature has already authorized medication assistants to give insulin and Narcan in overdoses. This has a safe and easy applicator like with Narcan.”
Beasley said unlicensed medication assistants will receive training from the Alabama Epilepsy Foundation.
“All we are trying to do is to get medication to a child who is having a seizure,” Beasley said.
Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, a doctor, said: “During a seizure, oxygen is being depleted in the brain rapidly. The faster that aid can get there is essential.”
Beasley said: “This is a controlled drug, so it is kept under lock and key.”
“These are emergency use situations where time is of the essence,” Beasley said.
Beasley said that the cost of the medicine is $700.
Beasley said: “Seizures are caused by not receiving the right nerve impulses or receiving too many impulses. The medication relaxes the nerve. The drug itself is Diazepam.”
The Diazepam, or similar medication, is administered in an easy-to-use applicator and is already at the proper dosage so there is no syringe to fill during a crisis situation.
Some senators expressed concerns that a growing number of schools lack school nurses to administer this and other medication.
Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, introduced an amendment to require that all schools hire a full-time licensed school nurse. That amendment was adopted, and the bill was passed by the Senate as amended 29 to 0 after having already been overwhelmingly approved by the House.
The 2021 Legislative Session concluded May 17.