First Aid

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Helping Someone Having a Seizure

As seizures are unpredictable and people with epilepsy may not always know when one might happen, making them potentially dangerous.

Seizures mostly run their own course but there are a few things that can help, like timing the seizure and keeping the person safe – particularly protecting the head from injury. It is crucial that during a seizure the person not restrained in any way nothing is put in their mouth.

It is important for people with epilepsy to tell relevant people such as friends, relatives, colleagues, classmates, teachers or coaches, about epilepsy and teach them what to do if a seizure happens.

Develop a Safety Plan

Having a Seizure Management Plans (SMP) readily available—for example at school or the workplace—will help minimise the impact of seizures for the person with epilepsy, and help others to manage seizures appropriately.

A SMP includes detailed information on:

  • emergency contacts
  • seizure and medical history
  • safety and supervision needs
  • instructions about medication (if any)
  • seizure management and first aid.

If an emergency medication plan is needed Epilepsy Action Australia can assist, as well as offer the necessary training for those involved in caring or supporting someone with epilepsy.

Create a Seizure Management Plan

We have an online tool where you can create your own SMPSimply register as an EAA client first, then follow the instructions to create a SMP.

Seizure First Aid Posters

You can print the following posters on A3 paper and put up on a notice board or wall for easy reference at home or work.

What You Can Do to Assist

Tonic-Clonic Seizure

Seizures where the body stiffens (tonic phase) followed by general muscle jerking (clonic phase).

DO

  • Stay with the person
  • Time the seizure
  • Keep them safe. Protect from injury especially the head
  • Roll into recovery position after jerking stops (immediately if food/fluid/vomit is in mouth)
  • Maintain privacy and dignity
  • Observe and monitor breathing
  • Gently reassure until recovered

DO NOT

  • Put anything in their mouth – this can cause injury to the person or yourself
  • Restrain the person – sometimes people can become agitated when restrained
  • Move the person unless in danger – guiding them away from danger is the best option if needed

If seizure occurs in wheelchair, car seat or stroller:

  • Leave the person in the chair with seatbelt on
  • Put the wheelchair brakes on
  • Lean the person slightly to one side to aid drainage of any fluid/food/vomit in mouth
  • Support head and protect airway as required
  • After jerking stops carefully remove from chair and place in recovery position if possible or required

View our Seizure First Aid Posters

Focal Seizure

Non-convulsive seizure with possible outward signs of confusion, inappropriate behaviour or responses.

  • Stay with the person
  • Time the seizure
  • Keep them safe. Gently guide away from danger if necessary
  • Reassure until recovered
  • DO NOT restrain – this may cause agitation

Absence Seizure

Non-convulsive seizure, brief blank periods with loss of awareness. Can be mistaken for daydreaming.

  • Remain calm
  • Reassure
  • Repeat any missed information

Call an ambulance (000 in Australia) if:

  • You are in any doubt
  • Injury has occurred
  • Food or water is in the mouth during seizure
  • The seizure has occurred in water
  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or
  • The seizure lasts longer than normal for that person
  • Another seizure follows quickly
  • The person is not responding for more than 5 minutes after the seizure ends
  • The person has breathing difficulties after the jerking stops
  • It is the person’s first known seizure

This is not an exhaustive list, however, it is a starting point to help you think about your response to seizures.
If you are likely to have a seizure in public, wearing some form of medical ID or medical ID card will alert people to the fact you have epilepsy and lessen panic.

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Free First Aid Posters:

You can download the PDF versions of First Aid for Seizures here
Print on A3 paper and put up on a notice board or wall for easy reference at home or work.

For more information:
Medical ID products
Triple Zero (000)