Seizure in a large crowd. What should you do?

doctor examines brain scan

Recent epileptic seizures in public venues among large crowds have grabbed headlines for the suddenness in which they occurred and the impact they could potentially have.


Dr. Nikesh Ardeshna
An airline pilot suffered a seizure midflight, prompting an emergency landing with more than 150 passengers on board. Previously, a 10-year old girl seized in the crowd during a Taylor Swift concert, prompting her to be rushed away by emergency responders.

Seizures require immediate medical attention, and large crowds can potentially create unintentional barriers for those first responders.

"Thankfully in these cases, no one sustained serious injury," said Dr. Nikesh Ardeshna, an epileptologist with McLaren Macomb. "However, incidents like these reiterate the importance of knowing what to do in the event of a seizure before help arrives."

Dr. Ardeshna advocates for learning general first aid for seizures in the likely event that one occurs in a large gathering:
"¢ Remain calm and call for emergency medical help
"¢ Keep on-lookers away
"¢ If possible move hazardous objects out of the way to prevent injury
"¢ Ease the patient to the ground if possible and lay them on their back, or if not to a chair
"¢ Do not put anything in the person's mouth (including water)
"¢ Do not forcibly hold them down or hold their extremities
"¢ Ensure their breathing is OK
"¢ Stay with the person throughout their seizure
"¢ Provide calming reassurance
"¢ Most generalized convulsive seizures (grand mal) seizures end in 2-3 minutes. Afterwards patients can be confused, sleepy and/or agitated

Learn more about epilepsy care at McLaren Macomb at mclaren.org/macombepilepsy.