Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seizure First-Aid

Tonight I've put aside the light-hearted Christmasy post that I was working on, so that I can share with you some important information that is very near and dear to my heart.


On my way into the courthouse this afternoon for Spencer to attend his official driver's licensing ceremony, Spencer and I noticed a woman on the sidewalk in the throes of a "grand mal" seizure.  I could see from a distance that the people near her did not seem to know what to do, so I ran to see if I could help.  

Although Ellie has never had a convulsive seizure, because of her epilepsy she is significantly more likely than the average person to have one someday and we have all had seizure training just in case.    This experience was my first time ever witnessing a grand mal seizure, but I was glad I was there, because it was very clear that I was the only one in the group that had gathered around her that had a clue what to do.   Someone was protecting her head, which is hugely important, but she was still on her back and struggling to breathe as a result.    As soon as we flipped her to her side and took out the object that someone had placed between her teeth, her breathing immediately evened out.  

In a couple of minutes she was fine and the ambulance arrived just as Spencer and I had to rush to the courtroom, where I was shaking and on the verge of a melt-down...partly from the adrenaline and partly with worry for Ellie and the seizure we pray she never has.   After gathering my wits,  I got to "enjoy" sad videos and scare tactic presentations geared for the room of new drivers.  Afterward they presented us with his license and we had a much calmer trip home. 

Later, after processing all that had happened, I knew that I had to write this post tonight.....for Ellie and for all the people out there who also have epilepsy or even for those children who have febrile seizures.  

Please take a few minutes and read through these steps about what to do if someone has a seizure.  If you have a bit more time, watch the video as well.   In just a few minutes, you can go from being the helpless bystander to the person who knows what to do in a potentially frightening situation.  


1.  Clear the area around them and protect their head by holding it slightly upward or putting an item of clothing underneath it to prevent them from banging their head on the ground.

2.  Roll them onto their side. 

3.  DO NOT place anything in their mouth (no food, no drink, no objects)

4.  Call 911 (unless you know that they have a history of seizures or in a person with a history of seizures if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.)

5.  Stay and help them to remain on their side with their head protected.

6.  Note the approximate length of the seizure for emergency personnel. 

7.  Calm the person when they awaken, as they will likely be very tired and very confused.

This is the video we watched as a family to learn what to do.  Skip to the 5:00 minute mark to get to the important part.  Watching the video took a lot of the fear out of the whole experience for me, because I could visualize what to do and be less frightened by the actual seizure. 


Ellie has "petit mal" seizures (officially called "absence" seizures) and they do not require any other first aid than making sure that she stays safe while she is non-responsive. 



Cassie Thompson said...

Excellent information! I am sure it was too close to home, but I know she is glad you were able to help. One thing I would add that I learned recently. My 16 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August. If a type 1 diabetic has a seizure due to extremely low blood sugar, a glucagon injection is needed. The person should be wearing a medical id tag, and have the glucagon in their bag. There are instructions in the case.
I have been reading your blog for quite some time, since not long after Spencer's diagnosis. I pray for y'all frequently.

Lara said...

Cassie, Thank you for this information. Finding out whether the lady was diabetic was one of the first things the 911 operators asked. Unfortunately even the person she was with had no idea. I didn't even think to look for the medical alert. Hopefully there won't be a next time, but it's helpful information to know just in case.
Also, I wanted to thank you for your comment in general. It's great to hear from Spencer supporters that we didn't even know about. :)

Cassie Thompson said...

Spencer is so close in age to my son...I had to follow your story. I'm so thankful he is doing well. God is so good. If you'd like to read my son's story, it's at I don't post as frequently as you do, but it sure helps to get it out there. I hope one day his story can be as helpful to someone as Spencer's has been to me.

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