First Aid

Convulsive Seizure
  1. Person loses consciousness and falls to the floor
  2. During the Tonic Phase, body parts extend and remain rigid
  3. During the Clonic Phase, muscles rapidly contract and relax
  4. Person is rolled to their side to aid breathing and keep airway clear

For individuals that experience generalized seizures, the following first aid should be provided in order to assure safety for all individuals involved and nearby.

  • Keep calm and reassure onlookers.
  • Don't hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Time the seizure with your watch.
  • Clear the area around the person of 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. It is not true that a person having a seizure can 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.
Non Convulsive

For individuals that experience non-convulsive, the following first aid should be provided in order to assure safety for all individuals involved and nearby.

  • Watch the person carefully and explain to others what is happening. Often people who don't recognize this kind of behavior as a seizure think that the dazed person is drunk or on drugs.
  • Speak quietly and calmly in a friendly way.
  • Guide the person gently away from any danger, such as a steep flight of steps, a busy highway, or a hot stove. Don't grab hold, however, unless some immediate danger threatens. People having this kind of seizure are on "automatic pilot" so far as their movements are concerned. Instinct may make them struggle or lash out at the person who is trying to hold them.
  • Stay with the person until full consciousness returns, and offer help in returning home.

For more information on seizure recognition and first aid, contact the Epilepsy Families Southeast Wisconsin. The Epilepsy Families Southeast Wisconsin provides various seizure first aid trainings to meet the needs of everyone providing care to those with epilepsy, including teachers, employers, healthcare professionals and family members.