Epilepsy Awareness Week takes place from 23rd-29th May 2022 this year.

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.

Causes of Epilepsy

Sometimes, Epilepsy can be caused by damage to the brain, damages include:


  • a stroke
  • a brain tumour
  • a severe head injury
  • drug abuse or alcohol misuse
  • a brain infection
  • lack of oxygen during birth


  • 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.

    Living with Epilepsy

    While Epilepsy is a lifelong condition, most people with epilepsy are able to have normal lives if their seizures are well controlled.

    Many children with Epilepsy can attend a regular school, partake in most events and sports, and get a job when they are older. However, you may have to think about your Epilepsy before doing things such as driving a car.

    We have a free e-learning course on the website for epilepsy!

    You can learn more and get a free e-certificate here!


    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!)


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