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Teen working on educating local firefighters about epilepsy, autism

TRURO HEIGHTS - Courtney Mills has a goal of educating firefighters about the various types of epilepsy.

Courtney Mills and her dog, Roxy, will both be wearing purple on Thursday, which is Purple Day, in support of epilepsy awareness. The 19-year-old started having seizures before she was a year old, and diagnosed two years ago with right temporal lobe epilepsy.

Mills, 19 and a lieutenant with the Cobequid District Fire Brigade, was diagnosed with right temporal lobe epilepsy and is on a mission to educate those around her about it.

"A lot of firefighters, they think there's only one type of seizure - grand mal," she said, adding there are a number of others that take on different forms, such as "staring into outerspace," muscle twitches, and others caused by mental health issues.

Going on her sixth year as a firefighter with the brigade, Mills is organizing presentations at local departments, and even some in East Hants, on autism and epilepsy.

"I've organized two now - one in Brookfield and I'm going to East Hants in a couple of weeks. I've been trying to get things on track since Jan. 24."

It was that day in January when Mills' fellow brigade members responded to a call at the Mills home because the teenager was having a seizure.

"We're still trying to figure out what caused it," she said of the doctors pinning down why she seized for 15 minutes. "They think it's mental health related."

The firefighting lieutenant says her fellow firefighters know what to do when it comes to someone having a seizure, and wants to spread that knowledge.

On Thursday, hundreds will gather at the Marriott hotel in Halifax in support of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia's 6th Annual Purple Day Gala.

"It's a time for people with epilepsy to get together, to socialize and dance," she said. "A lot of time, we don't get to hang out with other people who have epilepsy."

Mills is currently organizing other epilepsy and autism presentations at local fire departments, including Truro and Cobequid in Colchester County, and Lantz in Hants County.

The funds raised at the gala, which will come from a silent auction, the dance and three-course meal, will all go to Epilepsy Nova Scotia, which in turn helps families of those with epilepsy.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa


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