Health & Nutrition

What to do if you witness a seizure

February 20th, 2023 9:45 PM

By Southern Star Team

Epilepsy affects almost one in every 100 people – highlighting why seizure first-aid needs to be general knowledge amongst the wider public. Knowing what to do can potentially save lives. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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AS part of International Epilepsy Day 2023 on February 13th, Epilepsy Ireland want to make seizure first aid general knowledge amongst the public. 

There are over 45,000 people living with epilepsy in Ireland, meaning the condition is one of the most common neurological conditions in the country. 

However, in a recent public awareness survey conducted by Amarach Research on the behalf of Epilepsy Ireland, it was found that the public totally underestimates the prevalence of the condition – with 80% of respondents believing epilepsy to be a rare condition. 

‘The reality is that the condition affects almost one in every 100 people – highlighting why seizure first-aid needs to be general knowledge amongst the wider public. 

‘Knowing what to do can potentially save lives, and for people living with epilepsy, not knowing how appropriately a seizure will be responded to remains a major concern for many in their day to day lives,’ explains Peter Murphy, ceo of Epilepsy Ireland.

The key words in seizure first-aid are: Time, Safe, Stay

The first thing you should do is time the seizure. This is because if a seizure goes over five minutes, an ambulance should be called. 

Next, keep the person safe during the seizure. If a person is having a convulsive seizure, cushion their head with something soft if possible and remove any harmful objects, eg furniture from their vicinity. Never put anything in a person’s mouth or restrain them during a seizure. 

Be aware that there are also types of seizures where the person does not experience convulsions. 

Instead, they may ‘zone out’ or stare blankly, become confused or agitated, display behaviours like chewing, smacking their lips, fiddling with their clothes, or wandering aimlessly. 

In this type of seizure, the person’s awareness of their surroundings is affected, and it is important to gently guide the person away from any danger.

During the seizure and after it passes, stay with the person. Often after a seizure, a person with epilepsy will be confused and, in many cases, exhausted. Make sure to stay with them until recovery is complete, explain what has happened and gently reassure them. 

The person may have experienced an injury if they have fallen, and if this is the case, ensure normal first aid steps are taken.

‘We know that the Irish public are receptive to knowing more about epilepsy. We want to make Time, Safe, Stay synonymous with seizure first aid and make it ‘general knowledge’ in Ireland. 

‘We are asking everyone in Ireland to ask themselves the question – would you know what to do if someone had a seizure in your presence? 

‘And if the answer is no, it only takes a few minutes to head to our website and learn this vital information,’ added Mr Murphy.

• Further information on Epilepsy Ireland, International Epilepsy Day and Seizure First aid can be found by visiting 

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