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Municipality of the District of Chester
Fire & Emergency Response

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Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system characterized by seizures. It is important that we are able to recognize these incidents.


With epilepsy, the person may feel that a seizure is about to occur because of a brief sensation they experience, called an aura. This aura may be a hallucinated sound, smell, or a feeling of a movement in the body, felt just before the seizure. A major seizure can come on very suddenly, but seldom lasts longer than three minutes. After the seizure the person may not remember what happened. They may appear dazed, confused or sleepy.

There are some general signs of seizure

  • A sudden cry, stiffening of the body and loss of conciousness causing the person to fall
  • Noisy breathing and frothy saliva at the mouth
  • Jerking of the body
  • Breathing may stop or be irregular for a minute - the casuality may be turning blue
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

First aid for seizures

First aid for a seizure focuses on protecting the casuality from injury during convulsions and to keep the airway open while the casuality is unconsious.

  • Ensure the scene is safe. Clear away sharp objects that could cause injury.
  • Have someone immediately call 911.
  • Help the patient to the floor to prevent them from falling. Remove all objects that are near the patient. This will help to prevent accidental injury during the seizure.
  • DO NOT move or restrain the patient unless a dangerous object is nearby (stairs or hot object) .
  • Remove or loosen any tight clothing especially around the neck and remove any eyeglasses. Turn the patient on the side (preferably the left side) and extend the head. Their head should be slightly downward so that secretions and vomit can drain quickly out of the mouth preventing them from choking. 
  • NEVER try to force anything between the patient's clenched teeth. Doing so may break their teeth, or force the tongue back to occlude the airway or cause injury to the patient or you.
  • Stay calm. If the patient is conscious, offer reassurance. Reassure and calm others who are with the patient and explain what is happening.
  • After the convulsion has stopped, keep the patient warm, allowing them to rest.
  • Stay with the patient until the seizure ends or advance medical care arrives.