It can be really traumatic to witness someone having a seizure. But it can be even more traumatic when you don’t know what to do…

What are seizures?

Seizures or fits are most commonly associated with epilepsy. As a first aider, it is important to know that there are many other causes of fits, including diabetes, head injury, becoming too hot, or following a fever or infection (particularly in children). It is estimated that around 1 in 20 people will have a fit.

When someone has a major seizure, they will lose consciousness, their body will stiffen (seize), and they will often fall to the ground. They will then start to make varying degrees of jerky movements. During the fit, it is likely that the casualty will lose control of their bladder and bowel.

Remember a casualty suffering a cardiac arrest may also present seizure-like symptoms.


  • Move objects such as furniture away from the casualty to prevent further injury
  • Make a note of the time if possible
  • Move any other people away and protect the casualty’s dignity
  • If it is safe, cushion their head from the floor with a blanket, pillow or rolled up coat, but do not try to restrain them
  • Once the casualty has finished fitting, use your emergency plan. This will usually take you into the recovery position
  • Protect the airway, the casualty may be bleeding from their mouth or may have vomited
  • Stay with the casualty and allow them to recover slowly
  • Protect the casualty’s dignity, by using a blanket or similar

Do not:

  • restrain the casualty
  • put anything (such as your finger or a spoon) into their mouth.
  • give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully conscious.


Call an ambulance if:
  • the casualty has never had a fit before,
  • the fit lasts more than five minutes,
  • the person has several fits,
  • or if the person displays unsafe behaviour afterwards or you are unsure.

Find this article useful? You are sure to find our blog on Minor Seizures just as valuable (I’m sure many of you aren’t aware that these exist!)

If you’d like to educate yourself and your team on this subject matter, be sure to sign on to our free eLearning course!


Richard Craddock

Richard is the Managing Director at SkillBase First Aid

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