First Aid

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Below is a basic guide about what to do in case of a seizure.

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 then 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
St John first aid poster
Triple Zero (000)