Pa. COs to receive training on how to recognize seizures

A resource coordinator with an epilepsy foundation said it has become common for officers to mistake a seizure for drug intoxication

By Eric Mark
The Citizens' Voice

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Corrections officers at Luzerne County Correctional Facility will receive training in how to recognize and deal with someone having a seizure, county Manager David Pedri confirmed this week.

The training will take place remotely, via video conference, according to Pedri and Mary Loughlin, resource coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Loughlin said correctional facility officials reached out to her early this year to schedule training for corrections officers in dealing with seizures. The planned training was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled to September, Loughlin said.

At the time the training was originally scheduled, the county was being sued in federal court by the estate of Shaheen Mackey, who died two days after an altercation with corrections officers at the county jail in June 2018.

The suit filed by Mackey’s family alleged that corrections officers mistakenly thought Mackey was on drugs and resisting their efforts to restrain him, when he was actually suffering a violent epileptic seizure.

County council approved a $3 million settlement of the suit in June.

Loughlin said she watched a video of the encounter between Mackey and the corrections officers, and it was clear to her that Mackey was suffering “a classic grand mal seizure,” in which an afflicted person has no control over bodily movements.

She said it has become increasingly common for law enforcement officers to mistake a seizure for drug intoxication, as substance use disorder has escalated in recent years.

Loughlin said she plans to conduct training in recognizing seizures for several law enforcement agencies in the region, including Scranton police.

Medical staff members at the correctional facility have received training regarding seizures, Pedri said.


©2020 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

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