What to do if someone has a seizure

Seizures can be terrifying to witness. The most dangerous type of seizure is a tonic-clonic seizure in which a person usually collapses and becomes unconscious. Then there may be stiffening of the arms and legs before they start to shake repeatedly. If someone you know has a seizure, there are important steps that can help. One mnemonic that can help you to remember these is ‘ACTION’ developed by the Epilepsy Action charity.

A – Assess the situation and remove dangerous objects around the person. Move the person only if they are in an unsafe location, such as on the road.

C – Cushion the head to protect from head injury

T – Time the seizure. If a seizure with shaking lasts over 5 minutes then you should call an ambulance.

I – Identify the person and people who know them if possible. Family members may know about the seizures and specific treatments. The person may be carrying information about their seizures, such as with a medical bracelet.

O – Over. Once the seizure is over, turn the person over to lie on their side. This helps with breathing.

N – Never restrain a person who is shaking and never put your finger or any other object into their mouth.

A neurologist looks after people with regular seizures and can discuss medical or surgical treatments that could help stop seizures.