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Seizure Response

Seizure Response Plan  - Students/Employees who have had seizures should complete this form and have it on file in the Disability Services office.

What should you do if someone has a convulsive seizure?

  • If the person is NOT KNOWN to have seizures, it is appropriate to call for emergency assistance. Follow the steps below while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
  • If the person IS KNOWN to have seizures, it is not necessary to call an ambulance. The Dispatcher should be informed of the seizure, and an incident report will be filed with those needing to know.

First aid for seizures is very simple, and is designed to protect the safety of the person until the seizure stops naturally by itself. These are the key things to remember.

  1. Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby. This is an important step!
  2. Check the carotid artery for a pulse. If you feel one, the person is not suffering from a heart attack, generally not connected with seizures.
  3. Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  4. Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  5. Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
  6. Turn the person gently onto his or her side. This will help keep the airway clear.
  7. 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 or her tongue, and efforts to hold the tongue down can injure the teeth or jaw. You can lose a finger if you put one in the mouth.
  8. Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.
  9. Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  10. Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.  Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.  Offer to call an RA, friend, or relative to help the person get to their room if he or she seems confused or unable to get there by himself or herself.
  11. Call 6005 (Department of Safety) to report the incident as soon as possible.

Should an ambulance be called?

If you know the person has seizures it is usually not necessary to call an ambulance unless:

  • the seizure lasts for more than 10 minutes,
  • another seizure begins soon after the first, or
  • the person cannot be awakened after the jerking movements have stopped.

If the person shows evidence of serious bleeding or other injury resulting from the seizure, escort the student to the nearest health services for attention. Keep in mind that the student may speak with you, but not remember any conversations until fully recovered from the seizure.

What does a seizure look like? Do they last long?

A convulsive seizure happens when the whole brain is suddenly swamped with extra electrical energy. It often starts with a hoarse cry caused by air being suddenly forced out of the lungs. The person may fall to the ground unconscious. The body stiffens briefly, and then begins jerking movements. Bladder or bowel control is sometimes lost. The tongue may be bitten. A frothy saliva may appear around the mouth, caused by air being forced through mouth fluids. Breathing may get very shallow and even stop for a few moments. Sometimes the skin turns a bluish color because the lower rate of breathing is supplying less oxygen than usual. The jerking movements then slow down, and the seizure ends naturally after a minute or two. After returning to consciousness, the person may feel confused and sleepy.  In some cases, only a very short recovery period is required, and most people can go back to their normal activities after resting for a while.