EMT with Epilepsy

Frosty1687

Forum Probie
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Hi folks,

New to EMTLIFE. I've perused the forums and haven't really found any threads with much specific information. I'm looking to work on a rig in California, but there's one little wrinkle. I have had epilepsy for almost five years. I haven't had a seizure since December 2009 and I've been controlled on medication since that time. I had to work to get my license back after it was suspended.

Fast forward to now...passed my NREMT and now working as an ER tech in Northern California, but I'm looking to pick up some work as a rig EMT. California DMV requires you to get a medical screening for an ambulance operator certificate, and they have some wording about epilepsy in there that doesn't look promising, but they do say that appeals can be filed if need be. Has anybody had any experiences with this, either negative or positive? Thank you!
 

jwoods

Forum Probie
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Hey Frosty
I can tell you where I work in Miami Dade County you need to be seizure free for 5 years to work on a truck. At least that's past practice that I've observed.
 

Chronic510

Forum Probie
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When it comes down to it? It all depends on how your physician feels.
 

LACoGurneyjockey

Forum Asst. Chief
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I hate to start a post with "I knew a guy", but I knew a guy who had epilepsy, had been seizure free for quite some time, and was trying to get his ADL. The DMV gave him trouble for a while, and eventually required him to get a waiver filled out by his PMD. Once his doc signed off that he was ok, they were able to push it thru. It would require some effort on your part, and an understanding MD, but it can probably be done.
Of course, that was a different situation and could vary wildly based on your specifics...
 

Twitch559

Forum Crew Member
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Not sure if this is still need but i am in the same boat. I just returned from my failed DOT Physical, DOT now requires you to be seizure free AND off medication for 10 years.
 

ghost02

CA Flight Paramedic
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When it comes down to it? It all depends on how your physician feels.

Wrong. Most Yes marked boxes on the DL51 are revoked and investigated. This is regardless of the physician signing off. How do I know? Personal experience. ;D

Whoops, didn't see the age of this post and I still sent the guy a PM. Oops!
 

medicaltransient

Forum Lieutenant
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My heart goes out to you OP epilepsy can be quite debilitating to your life. I hope you get on a box like you want. If you plan to be a paramedic be careful it's very high stress.
 

TattooedNay

Forum Crew Member
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OP: What kind of epilepsy were you diagnosed with? Assuming you are compliant with your medications and have a good relationship with your neurologist I wouldn't worry about it too much. PM me if you have more questions.
 

RallyWerks

Forum Ride Along
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Hey, I am in the same boat. I am a very healthy 25 y/o male with no medical history (apart from a seizure). I just passed my NREMT on Monday and am incredibly eager to start working on a rig. Ideally I am hoping for a job with AMR or Gold Coast (I live in Southern California). My situation is a little different however.
In December of 2014 I had the flu, was very dehydrated and running a fever. A friend of mine and I were running through the airport to catch a flight when the next thing I knew a couple of EMT's were assessing my LOC. They ended up taking me to the hospital telling me that I had a seizure and i'd need to be looked at. After being in the ER for about 45 minutes I went tonic clonic and woke up the following day with an RT removing a breathing tube.
They put me on the lowest dose of Keppra (Levetiractam) possible and a little over a year later here I am. I haven't had a single issue since and my Neurology appointments (every 3 months, for refill purposes) last about 5 minutes.

I too am feeling a little stuck on the DL51 issue. I have been getting everything else done prior to applying for a job, Live Scan, registering with the county EMS department, ect. This DMV Ambulance operator's medical exam is the last step on my agenda and to be fair, I am terrified of the possibility of not being able to get past this hurdle. I have even gone as far as contacting AMR (in two different counties) and telling them my situation. They both have said, "if the state approves, then we don't have a problem hiring you."

Any help on this would be very appreciative. Thanks guys
 
OP
OP
Frosty1687

Frosty1687

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Hi RallyWerks....so I ended up applying for & receiving an Ambulance Driver Certificate, which was a complete shock to me and everyone that knew my situation. I thought I was all set to go until I was reminded of the Medical Examiner's Card. That little piece of paper is extremely difficult to impossible to obtain if you have had seizures within a certain amount of time and/or you're on medication. I haven't had a seizure since December 2009 after starting on the lowest dose of Keppra. I emailed the local AMR affiliate in my area and they basically told me that I shouldn't have received the Ambulance Driver Certificate in the first place. When I spoke with the DMV, they said I was good on their end, so yeah...I can't tell you too much that is straightforward. DMV says hey, you're great, all set, but then to work in most agencies/jurisdictions in my area, I need a Medical Card, which is a hard sell.
 

RallyWerks

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Hey Frosty, that's incredible news!! That really gives me hope and is a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Apart from our timeframes, we seem to have very similar situations.

Just a couple of questions if you don't mind...
How did you do it, paperwork wise? And when you went in to get the physical, they didn't say anything about it or...?
Also were you on any Keppra when you applied for it?
IMG_8588_zpsvnbj5kmf.jpg

Did you check these?

I just want to get past this part! haha! :)

Thank you very much for the reply.
 
OP
OP
Frosty1687

Frosty1687

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I'm assuming this is the DL 51. I checked the seizures/epilepsy box as I have a diagnosis of epilepsy. When I went in to the physical, my doctor filled it out but DID NOT issue me a Medical Examiner's card because of the history of seizures. The CA DMV follows federal DOT regulations when it comes to issuing a commercial driver's medical card, which means that if you have a diagnosis of epilepsy or you are currently taking medication, that it is extremely hard. I have not been able to get a medical examiner's card.
 

RallyWerks

Forum Ride Along
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I must have misread your last post. I thought you Did get your Medical Examiners card.
Thank you for clarifying and sharing your experience.
That being the case then, what have you done for work as an EMT without it?
 

Underoath87

Forum Asst. Chief
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For all you guys with epilepsy/seizure disorders: have you tried driving at night down an unlit road with the emergency lights on? Because if ANYTHING is going to induce a seizure, I would think it that.

Edit: better yet, let someone else drive when you first try this out.
 
OP
OP
Frosty1687

Frosty1687

Forum Probie
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Under certain circumstances, lack of sleep and increased stress may contribute to an increased risk of seizures. In my case, I was working almost full time, going to school, and not sleeping enough, and I ended up having seizures. I've been controlled under medication since then, and was able to briefly work in L.E. before becoming an EMT and working in a busy ER doing night shifts and going to school. I think it depends on each person and how well their medications work, combined with other factors in their lifestyle.

If you're asking whether working in EMS and having that high-stress, overnight shift environment could contribute to seizures, I strongly believe that it depends on a case by case basis.
 

Chewy20

Forum Deputy Chief
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Unfortunately most places don't want to take medical risks on a case-by-case basis. Waaaay to much liability for the company.

To be blunt, I would not waste your time with getting your paramedic if you are having a hard time getting to do EMT work. Doesn't make any sense really. Go get your RN.
 
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