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Vauxhall Motors’ ingenious OnStar service demonstrated its value in emergency situations when helped rescue John Cook and his partner Paula after a series of circumstances aligned leaving them in a situation fearing for John’s life.

John Cook has suffered with epilepsy from a young age and although this stops him driving, he’s determined to live life to the full.  Despite managing his condition, emergencies can happen when least expected.  As Paula and John navigated their way home from visiting family in Cornwall, their journey soon became fraught with problems as they found themselves faced with road closures, diversions and traffic jams leaving them tired, hours late, disorientated and distressed.

As the journey continued, John’s need for his epilepsy medicine became desperate and he was taken ill.  John needed urgent medical assistance but with both their mobile phones having no reception, the couple were stranded, unable to contact anyone for help.  Paula was left feeling alone and fearful for John and his health.

Paula takes up the story, “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.”  

Adviser Kelvin Borbridge picked up the call that day and within seconds, Vauxhall OnStar had notified the emeregency serives 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 the emergency care he so desperately needed.

John Cook said, “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.”

Rory Harvey, Managing Director, Vauxhall Motors said, “We don’t want anyone to go through John and Paula’s ordeal.  Our philosophy is to engineer cars which fit to people’s lives and with Vauxhall OnStar we’re offering a state of the art connectivity system, helping drivers feel calm and reassured.  Whether it’s being able to track a car when stolen or even just having access to WiFi to keep the children happy, we’re already reached over 5.5 customer intereactions across Europe since the service launched.  In 2017, two out of three new Vauxhall’s will be equipped with OnStar.”

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.”

To aid John’s wish to raise awareness of epilepsy, Vauxhall OnStar contacted the Epilepsy Society to make a donation but also 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.

Vauxhall OnStar is a personal onboard assistant which gives drivers access to a host of innovative services including automatic crash response, 4G Wi-Fi for up to seven devices, stolen vehicle assistance, vehicle diagnostics, destination download and smartphone functionality.

For further information on Vauxhall OnStar please visit www.vauxhall.co.uk/onstar and to watch a short film of John and Paula’s story.