Do you know what to do when you encounter someone having a seizure? Do you call an ambulance? Should you restrain the person?

I'm guessing that many of you may not know what actions to take when someone you know, or don't know, is seizing. I certainly didn't when my adult daughter had her first seizure a few years ago. I thought it was a panic attack brought on by the long hours she was putting in preparing for her first day of teaching first grade at a local elementary school. A few months later, she had her second seizure at school. After several hours in the emergency room, we were told she should see a neurologist because she may have had a seizure.

To say that our lives have changed since then is an understatement.

My daughter developed epilepsy as an adult, so I can't imagine what it would be like having a young child with epilepsy. I would have been terrified to send her off to school each day, worrying about her getting hurt during and right after a seizure.

You may not have heard of the "Jamie and Brie Strong Act" that's moving through the General Assembly this year but for parents of children who have seizures, its passage is crucial.

The bill is backed by the national Epilepsy Foundation and two Virginia students - Jamie Van Cleave of Yorktown High School and Brie Gesick, a middle school student in Virginia Beach - have been campaigning for it. Senate Bill 420 recently cleared the state Senate with two senators voting nay. The bill has moved on to the House of Delegates for consideration.

There are 85,000 people in Virginia who have epilepsy, and 11,000 of them are children, according to a news release from the Epilepsy Foundation. This bill in Virginia would bring our state in line with five other states that have passed seizure safe schools legislation (

The bill includes training in seizure detection and first aid response by certain public school employees. All students with epilepsy would have seizure action plans on file, and there's also a Good Samaritan clause that provides immunity from civil liability when providing care.

I urge the House of Delegates to pass this bill.

Linda O'Dell Ash is the editor of the Northern Virginia Daily. Contact her at