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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 their 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 their mouth. Rest assured, the person will not swallow their tongue. Gently roll the person onto their side as soon as you are safely able, 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 repetitive 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 link. 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 seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
  • If consciousness or regular breathing does not return after the seizure 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

Seizure First Aid Tip Sheet

If you have further questions or concerns about how to properly respond to a seizure, please contact us at info@epilepsytoronto.org.