You do not need to be a qualified first aider to help and support someone during and after a seizure. Most seizures will stop on their own, and will not require any intervention.
Family, friends or work colleagues may appreciate knowing basic seizure first aid so they can help and support you or someone they care for during and after a seizure and keep them safe.
Have a look at the following simple step by step guide to help someone who has a tonic-clonic seizure. For more information on how to help someone with a different type of seizure, check out our First aid for seizures factsheet.
How to help someone having a tonic-clonic seizure
A tonic-clonic seizure is the type of seizure where someone suddenly loses consciousness, falls over, and starts convulsing (jerking). It used to be known as a ‘grand mal’ seizure.
- time the (convulsive part of the) seizure
- wipe away any vomit or saliva to keep their airway clear
- move any objects that could cause injury
- put something soft like a jacket or flat cushion under the person’s head
- loosen tight clothing around the neck
- remove any glasses
- if possible, turn the person into the recovery position during convulsions but do not restrain or hold down the person.
- reassure others and stop other people from crowding around
Once the convulsive (jerking) phase has stopped:
- maintain their airway by tilting their head slightly backwards, if possible
- check if they have injured themselves
- turn the person onto their side (recovery position) if you haven’t managed to do this during convulsions
- check nothing has blocked their airway, such as dislodged dentures or inhaled food
- stay with the person until their breathing and colour has returned to normal
- Explain what happened and talk gently to help re-orientate the person and stay with them until fully recovered.
With all other types of seizure, simply stay with the person, talk gently and reassure, and keep them safe until they have fully recovered.
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