Having a seizure for the first time can be really worrying and upsetting…..

Ironically, we had just covered seizures on the Paediatric First Aid Course in Huddersfield.  Suddenly Gerry (not his real name) threw his head back and went rigid without warning.

This doesn’t mean to say that he has epilepsy. However, it does mean that he has to have further tests and in the meantime- stop driving.

For anyone who have no experience of witnessing of someone having a ‘fit seizure’ or ‘epileptic fit’ it will be quite scary. But you have to remember that this is a condition, not an illness or something infectious.

Let’s look at a seizure to start with where an individual has no history of epilepsy. This can be due (and usually is) by a blow to the head. It may or may not have caused them to blackout in the process, although it could also be caused for other reasons including a raise in body temperature. What it looks like to someone who is watching is different to what the person experiences. For the person having the seizure, you have to remember that everyone is different, it is a condition.

Gerry remembers listening to Helen speak about seizures then nothing till he came round on the floor. At this point he said he had no idea where he was and what had happened, so got quite upset by it all- and sweaty, very sweaty. Now that is normal and if this happens to Gerry again that he has a seizure, this could be the ‘norm’ for him.

Those watching saw it happen from the initial throwing himself backwards and eyes wide open with a very pale skin. We had to move him onto the floor onto his side where he started sharp small jerky movements. Then  followed by him stopping breathing (all be it briefly) then continuing with the jerky movements before opening his eyes and starting to cry.

It took 1 minute 50 seconds from start to finish.

The main thing to remember is that it may be scary to the person experiencing it. You will need reassurance and will need to call an ambulance, if it is the first time it has happened. We were lucky, less than 9 minutes and the ambulance was with us.

If this was you and the person started to have a seizure, there are a few simple ways to help the casualty:

  1. Time it (so the paramedics know how long it lasted
  2. Protect the head (such as moving furniture and placing something soft under the head)
  3. If it is safe to do so, get them on their side into the recovery position
  4. Don’t give them anything to eat or drink or put anything in their mouth
  5. Stay with them, reassure them that they are not on their own
  6. Protect their dignity (they may wet and/or soil themselves)
  7. Monitor their airways and breathing throughout
  8. If they stop breathing commence CPR.

So Gerry now waits to hear about the next appointment with the consultant to see if they can get to the bottom of why he had a seizure.

Want to know more and learn first aid skills? Just book on one of the many fun and interactive First Aid courses we have running at Purple Dog Ltd:  First Aid Courses