helpline 01494 601 400
09 December 2016

Vauxhall Motors’ SOS button saves the life of man with epilepsy

Vauxhall's OnStar service came to the rescue in an emergency situation when John Cook found himself in a desperate situation due to his epilepsy.

John Cook has suffered with epilepsy from a young age and has stopped driving as a result. Despite managing his condition, emergencies can happen at any time. As John and his wife Paula were travelling home from visiting family in Cornwall, they soon came into difficulty when they found themselves faced with road closures, diversions and traffic jams leaving them tired and extremely stressed.

As the journey continued, John was taken ill and the pair both feared for his life. John needed urgent medical assistance and medication. Due to both their phones having no reception, the couple were unable to contact anyone for assistance.

Disaster struck 

Describing the situation, Paula said,  “I was desperate but then remembered the OnStar SOS button we were shown when we bought the car from our local Vauxhall retailer, Picador in Lyndhurst.  I pressed the button, and was immediately connected to the Vauxhall OnStar Call Centre in Luton.  The Vauxhall OnStar adviser, started speaking with me.  I had no idea where we were but he quickly established our location so medical assistance could be arranged.  He was then able to patch me through to speak with family who I could let know what was happening.”   

Vauxhall OnStar Adviser Kelvin Borbridge answered the call and immediately notified the emergency services and an ambulance crew were dispatched.  A GPS tracker within the vehicle can alert the team and ambulance crews to the exact location of the car which can even report on the vehicle colour and direction of travel.  John was taken into hospital and received emergency care.

John commented, “It’s no exaggeration to say that Vauxhall OnStar saved my life.  Having it in the car 24/7, 365 days a year offers us both peace of mind.  Through this activity I want to raise awareness of the service and also epilepsy as a condition.” 

“Latest advances in technology can make a huge difference to people with epilepsy."

Ley Sander, Medical Director at Epilepsy Society and Professor of Neurology at UCL Institute of Neurology said, “Latest advances in technology can make a huge difference to people with epilepsy. There are up to half a million people in the UK with epilepsy and for a third of them, their seizures do not respond to medication. One of the biggest impacts of this is that they can’t drive which is very debilitating in a society that is dependent on the car.

“Vauxhall OnStar is a great example of technology working to make people with epilepsy feel safer. It is impossible to predict when you will have a seizure, so to know that help is at hand at the press of a button, will really give people more confidence when they are out with friends and family. It is also reassuring for the driver and other passengers to know that they will be able to summon help, even if they are in a remote area and their phones have no signal.”

What should you do if someone is having a convulsive seizure?

To aid John’s wish to raise awareness of epilepsy, Vauxhall OnStar contacted Epilepsy Society to make a donation. We contacted Vauxhall to share advice on what people can do if they see someone experiencing a convulsive (shaking) seizure:

  • Stay calm. Unless the person is in a dangerous place, do not move them.

  • Note the time the seizure starts. Don’t hold them down or put anything in their mouth.

  • Cushion their head with something soft if they have collapsed to the ground. If they don't collapse but seem blank or confused, gently guide them away from any danger.

  • Check the time again. If a convulsive seizure doesn't stop after 5 minutes, call for an ambulance (dial 999).

  • After the seizure has stopped, put them into the recovery position and check that their breathing is returning to normal.  Gently check nothing is blocking their airway such as food or false teeth. If their breathing sounds difficult call for an ambulance.

  • Stay with them until they are fully recovered.

  • If they are injured, or they have another seizure without recovering fully from the first seizure, call for an ambulance.

More on seizure first aid

Watch short film of John and Paula’s story

Share this article: