First aid for seizures is simple. Keep calm and make sure the person having the seizure is comfortable and safe from harm.
- Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
- Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
- Time the seizure with your watch.
- Clear the area around the person if anything hard or sharp.
- Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
- Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
- Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
- Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. A person having a seizure CANNOT swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure teeth or jaw.
- Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
- Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally. Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns. Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.
TAKE A.C.T.I.O.N. — Quick Steps!
A-Assess the Situation: Are they in danger? Remove nearby objects.
C-Cushion their head to protect them.
T-Time: Check the time. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call an ambulance.
I-Identity: Look for a medical bracelet or ID card. It may give you information about the person’s seizures and what to do.
O-Over: Turn patient on side when possible. Stay with them to reassure.
N-NEVER restrain the person, put something in their mouth or try to give them food or drink.
When to Call for an Ambulance
No Need to Call an Ambulance if —
- medical I.D. jewelry or card says “epilepsy” and
- the seizure ends in under five minutes and
- consciousness returns without further incident and
- there are no signs of injury, physical distress, or pregnancy.
An Ambulance Should Be Called if —
- the seizure has happened in water.
- there’s no medical I.D., and no way of knowing whether the seizure is caused by epilepsy.
- the person is pregnant, injured, or diabetic.
- the seizure continues for more than five minutes.
- the second seizure starts shortly after the first has ended.
- consciousness does not start to return after the shaking has stopped.
- if the ambulance arrives after consciousness has returned, the person should be asked whether the seizure was associated with epilepsy and whether emergency room care is wanted.
Seizure Rescue Medication
SB 161: Seizure Rescue Medication in Schools
On October 7, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 161 into law which authorizes school districts to provide school employees with medical training to administer emergency medical assistance to pupils with epilepsy suffering from prolonged seizures. The bill allows emergency intervention such as the use of Diastat for prolonged seizures to be accessible to volunteer, trained non-medical individuals in the absence of a licensed nurse onsite at the school. The bill also authorizes a school district to provide school employees with voluntary emergency medical training to provide medical assistant to individuals with epilepsy suffering from prolonged seizures.
According to neurologist Dr. Arthur Partikian, “A prolonged seizure that is not treated appropriately and in a rapid manner can result in a brain injury, and that is why this bill was so important for our children.” If not treated at the appropriate time, prolonged seizures have the potential to cause brain injury and even death, making immediate emergency medical assistance imperative.
Click here for Diastat Administration Instructions.