Lesson 5: First Aid for Seizures

Welcome to Lesson 5 of our Online Emergency First Aid at Work Course, focusing on “First Aid for Seizures.” Seizures are a common medical emergency, and understanding how to respond effectively is crucial for the safety and well-being of the individual experiencing them.

Seizures can vary greatly in their presentation, from brief lapses of attention or muscle jerks to severe and prolonged convulsions. They can be frightening to witness, but with the right knowledge and actions, you can provide significant help and comfort to the individual experiencing a seizure.

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • Understanding Seizures: We’ll explore what seizures are, the different types, and their causes. This foundational knowledge will help you recognize a seizure and understand the experience of the person affected.
  • Immediate First Aid for Seizures: You’ll learn the essential steps to take when you encounter someone having a seizure, focusing on ensuring their safety and preventing injury.
  • Post-Seizure Care: After a seizure, individuals may feel confused, tired, or even unaware of what happened. We will cover how to care for someone after a seizure, including when to call for emergency help.
  • Special Considerations: We’ll discuss special cases, such as recurrent seizures or seizures occurring in individuals with known epilepsy, and how to handle these situations.

By the end of this lesson, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently provide first aid for seizures, an invaluable skill in both the workplace and everyday life.

Let’s proceed with Lesson 5, where you will learn how to be a supportive and effective first aider in managing seizure emergencies.

In the first part of Lesson 5, we will delve into understanding seizures and the immediate first aid steps required during a seizure episode. This knowledge is crucial for ensuring the safety of individuals experiencing seizures.

Understanding Seizures

  • Objective: Gain a comprehensive understanding of what seizures are and why they occur.
  • Content:
    • Definition and Causes: A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in behavior, movements, feelings, and levels of consciousness. Causes can range from epilepsy to fever, head injury, or certain medical conditions.
    • Types of Seizures: Seizures are broadly categorized into focal (occurring in one area of the brain) and generalized (affecting both sides of the brain). Within these categories, there are various types, including absence seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and others.
  • Example:
    • Tonic-Clonic Seizure at a School: A student suddenly falls to the ground, their body stiffens (tonic phase), and then they experience rhythmic jerking movements (clonic phase). This is a type of generalized seizure known as a tonic-clonic seizure.

Immediate First Aid for Seizures

  • Objective: Provide immediate and appropriate care during a seizure to ensure the individual’s safety.
  • Actions:
    1. Ensure Safety: Move any dangerous objects away from the person to prevent injury.
    2. Positioning: Gently guide the person to the floor and place something soft under their head.
    3. Avoid Restraint: Do not try to hold the person down or stop their movements.
    4. Loosen Tight Clothing: Especially around the neck, to aid in breathing.
    5. Time the Seizure: Note how long the seizure lasts, as this information is important for medical professionals.
  • Example:
    • Workplace Incident: A colleague begins to have a seizure. You quickly clear the surrounding area of chairs and sharp objects, guide them to the floor, and place a cushion under their head. You ensure that their tie is loosened and observe the time.

Post-Seizure Actions

  • Objective: Assist the individual after the seizure has ended.
  • Actions:
    1. Check for Responsiveness: After the seizure stops, check if the person is breathing and conscious.
    2. Recovery Position: If they are breathing but not fully conscious, gently place them in the recovery position.
    3. Stay and Reassure: Stay with the person until they are fully recovered and offer reassurance as they may be confused or embarrassed.
  • Example:
    • Community Event: After a person’s seizure ends, they appear disoriented and confused. You help them into a comfortable position, provide reassurance, and stay with them until they regain full awareness.

In the second part of Lesson 5, we will focus on the specific types of seizures, their identification, and special considerations for providing first aid in these situations.

Identifying Different Types of Seizures

  • Objective: Recognize various seizure types to tailor the first aid response appropriately.
  • Types of Seizures:
    1. Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures: Characterized by stiffening of the body (tonic phase) followed by rhythmic jerking (clonic phase).
    2. Absence Seizures: Brief, sudden lapses in attention, often mistaken for daydreaming.
    3. Focal Seizures: May involve involuntary movements, changes in sensation, or emotional experiences. The person might appear dazed or unresponsive.
  • Example:
    • In a Retail Store: A customer suddenly stops responding to your questions, staring blankly ahead, indicating an absence seizure. They soon ‘snap’ back to normal without realizing what happened.

First Aid for Different Seizure Types

  • Objective: Provide specific first aid based on the type of seizure.
  • Actions:
    1. Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures: Prioritize safety, clear the area, and protect the head. Do not restrain movements.
    2. Absence Seizures: Gently guide the person away from danger. No physical intervention is usually needed.
    3. Focal Seizures: Speak calmly, remove dangerous objects, and guide them to a safe place if they are moving.
  • Example:
    • During a Group Activity: One participant begins to exhibit strange, repetitive movements and seems unaware of the environment, suggesting a focal seizure. You calmly guide them to a chair and remove nearby objects that could cause harm.

Post-Seizure Care and Special Considerations

  • Objective: Understand the care needed after a seizure and considerations for specific circumstances.
  • Care:
    1. Monitoring: Observe the person for any additional seizures or injuries incurred during the seizure.
    2. Reassurance and Comfort: People can be confused or embarrassed after a seizure. Offer reassurance and explain what happened in a calm manner.
  • Special Considerations:
    1. Repeated Seizures: If the person has multiple seizures without regaining consciousness, or if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, seek emergency medical assistance.
    2. Known Epilepsy: If the person has known epilepsy, be aware of their specific seizure plan or any emergency medication they might need.
  • Example:
    • At a Community Center: An individual with known epilepsy has a seizure. After it ends, you check their medical ID bracelet, which indicates they take emergency medication. You assist them with their medication as per the instructions and stay with them until they recover.

In the final part of Lesson 5, we’ll discuss the importance of aftercare following a seizure and how to handle situations where emergency medical assistance is required. This segment is crucial for ensuring the continued well-being of the individual after a seizure.

Aftercare Following a Seizure

  • Objective: Provide appropriate care and support to the individual after the seizure has ended.
  • Actions:
    1. Assess for Injuries: Check if the individual sustained any injuries during the seizure and provide first aid as needed.
    2. Comfort and Reassure: People can be disoriented or embarrassed after a seizure. Offer comfort and reassurance, and explain what happened if they are unaware.
    3. Ensure a Safe Environment: Allow the individual to rest in a safe and comfortable place until they have fully recovered.
  • Example:
    • At a Sports Event: After a spectator experiences a seizure, you find they have a minor bruise on their arm from falling. You provide basic first aid for the bruise, offer reassurance, and help them to a quiet area to recover.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Assistance

  • Objective: Recognize situations following a seizure that warrant emergency medical attention.
  • Indicators for Emergency Help:
    1. Prolonged Seizure: If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if there are consecutive seizures without regaining consciousness.
    2. First Seizure: If it’s the person’s first seizure, medical evaluation is necessary.
    3. Difficulty Breathing: If the individual has trouble breathing post-seizure.
    4. Serious Injury: If there are injuries such as a head injury, deep cuts, or broken bones.
  • Example:
    • In a Shopping Mall: A person has a seizure for the first time. After the seizure, they are still not fully conscious and appear to have difficulty breathing. You immediately call for emergency medical services and continue to monitor their condition.

Providing Information to Emergency Responders

  • Objective: Effectively communicate the situation to emergency medical responders upon their arrival.
  • Actions:
    • Be prepared to inform the emergency responders about the seizure duration, type, and any actions you took. Provide any known medical history of the individual, if available.
  • Example:
    • Workplace Scenario: When paramedics arrive after a colleague’s seizure, you inform them that the seizure lasted approximately 3 minutes, describe the type of movements observed, and mention that the colleague mentioned a history of epilepsy.

Looking Ahead to Lesson 6: First Aid for Choking

Moving forward to Lesson 6, our focus will shift to another critical aspect of emergency first aid: “First Aid for Choking.” Choking is a common and often dangerous emergency, particularly because it can lead to severe oxygen deprivation and requires immediate intervention.

In the upcoming lesson, you will learn:

  • Identifying Choking: How to recognize when someone is choking and differentiate between mild and severe choking.
  • First Aid Techniques: Detailed instruction on the Heimlich maneuver and back blows, essential techniques for dislodging an obstruction in the airway.
  • Special Considerations: Tailoring your response for different age groups, such as infants and the elderly, who require specific techniques.
  • Post-Choking Care: Steps to take after successfully dislodging an obstruction, including monitoring and when to seek medical attention.

Join us in Lesson 6 as we continue to enhance your first aid capabilities. Understanding how to respond quickly and effectively to choking incidents is a crucial skill that can save lives in critical moments.

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