Tonic-Clonic seizure

Seizure First Aid

What should I do if I see someone having a CONVULSIVE SEIZURE?

A convulsive seizure, such as a tonic-clonic seizure, usually lasts 1-3 minutes. It is an episode when a person falls down, and his or her body starts shaking rapidly and uncontrollably.

It is always important to stay calm. Let the seizure take its course and always keep track of time. If necessary, ease the person to the floor and move hard or sharp objects out of the way. Be sure to loosen anything tight around the neck and check for medical ID. Don’t restrain the person and don’t put anything in his or her mouth. Rest assured, the person will not swallow his or her tongue. Gently roll the person onto their side as the seizure subsides, to allow saliva or other fluids to drain away, helping to keep the airway clear.

What should you do if someone has a NON-CONVULSIVE SEIZURE?


A non-convulsive seizure is when a person stares blankly, is dazed and unresponsive. Movements tend to be repetative and clumsy. It usually lasts a few minutes. Afterwards, the person may be still confused.

In this situation, it is important to stay with the person. Do not try to stop the seizure, but let it take its course. The person will be unaware of his or her actions, and may or may not hear you. Move dangerous objects out of the way and don’t restrain the person. Gently guide the person away from danger or remove all hazardous materials. Afterwards, talk gently to reassure the person and stay with them until complete awareness returns.

When should an AMBULANCE be called?

  • If a convulsion seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
  • If consciousness or regular breathing does not return after seizures has ended
  • If seizures repeat without full recovery between seizures
  • If confusion after a seizure persists for more than 1 hour
  • If the seizure occurs in water
  • If it is a first-time seizure, or the person is injured, pregnant or has diabetes

For more information on how to properly respond to a seizure or to receive an e-brochure on Emergency Seizure Response, please contact Epilepsy Toronto at 416 964-9095 or email info@epilepsytoronto.org