The other morning we were stopped at a traffic light and Nick exclaimed, “Look mom, that man fall down.” Just as Nick said that, Arden and I both saw an older gentleman fall to the sidewalk while having a tonic-clonic seizure. Commonly called a Grand Mal seizure, they are recognized by a sudden drop to the ground followed by the full body rhythmic and sometimes severe jerking movements.
Momentarily horrified at our inability to help him, we both felt a lot of relief as four passersby rushed to his assistance.
They seemed to know what to do. His legs were partially in the street, so they moved him away from the curb to safety and rolled him onto his side to prevent possible aspiration during the seizure. One should never place anything in the individual’s mouth while they are seizing or attempt to move or restrain them unless they are in a dangerous location. It is also important to time the length of the seizure to be able to tell the person as well as emergency medical personnel when the seizure is over.
Our traffic stop was longer than his seizure. We watched those Good Samaritans help him to his feet and gently guide him to a park bench nearby. Then the light changed and we had to go. Arden and I both wanted to help him, but it was obvious that he was in good hands.
Seizures typically don’t last very long and often a person with epilepsy will regain consciousness immediately after the seizure. Sometimes they will seem confused or experience extreme fatigue. These are normal responses.
We don’t know whether they called for an ambulance. If an individual unknown to you is seizing, I suggest that you summon an emergency medical team, however that is done in your area.
Since over 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy, you will probably witness a seizure sometime in your lifetime. There are other types of seizures so for further information you can use your internet search engine to discover a world of helpful facts and suggestions. The United States has the Epilepsy Foundation. Other countries have similar organizations.
I am grateful that people rushed forward to assist this man. I am grateful that they were aware of how to intervene correctly. I wish that there was a cure for epilepsy, but for now I am grateful to have witnessed people helping.
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