Safety Tips First aid

First aid for grand mal seizures

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Image: National Safety Council

“When most people think of a seizure, they think of a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, also called a grand mal seizure,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “In this type of seizure, the person may cry out, fall, shake or jerk, and become unaware of what’s going on around them.”

Grand mal seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic, and usually are a result of epilepsy, although they can be triggered by a stroke, low blood sugar or a high fever. This type of seizure has two stages: the tonic phase, in which loss of consciousness occurs, the muscles contract and the person falls down; and the clonic phase, in which the muscles experience rhythmic contractions of flexing and contracting.

Basic steps to follow if you suspect a co-worker is experiencing a grand mal seizure, according to CDC, are:

  • Ease the person to the floor.
  • Turn the person gently onto one side, which will aid breathing.
  • Make sure the area around the person is clear of sharp or hard objects.
  • Put something soft under the person’s head and remove eyeglasses.
  • Time the seizures, and call 911 if they last longer than five minutes.

CDC notes that workers trying to help should never hold a person down or try to stop the person’s movements, and never put anything in a person’s mouth, which could cause injury to the person’s teeth or jaw. Additionally, don’t give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, as seizure victims usually start breathing on their own after the seizure ends.

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