Pretending you drive an ambulance is not the way to go

I read a blog post today that I don’t even want to bother linking to.  Why?  Because while the point to the blog was to educate about febrile seizure, the actions of the mother are ones I find appalling.  I have a child with a seizure disorder.  BK had her first known seizure sitting right in front of me in my kitchen.  I snatched her up out of her high chair and confirmed what I thought I was seeing and the very next action was to CALL 911.  Unless otherwise directed by your doctor to stay in place and treat a seizure another way, calling 911 is the best thing to do when anyone, child or adult has a seizure.  Some people with a seizure disorder have “rescue” medication that can be given via nose or rectally, and obviously if you know about those medications they should be administered.  But even in the case of those medications, unless you know otherwise the safest thing to do is call 911.   So why should you call 911 and not put your child in the car (or keep them in if you are in the car at the time) and just zoom off to the hospital at top speed, with your flashers going and your horn honking?  You are putting you, your child, any passengers in your car and any drivers on the road in danger.  You child is more at risk without someone monitoring their condition.  And lastly chances are an ambulance can arrive faster than you can get to the hospital.  Once they do arrive they can assist your child by providing oxygen and monitoring her vital signs while they are en route to a hospital that is equipped to care for a child.  In our case when BK had her first seizure the hospital 3 minutes from my front door did not treat young children, they had to take us over 20 minutes to another town that had a larger hospital.  There she was stabilized and transported to a major city that had a hospital with pediatric Neurologists and a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

I am very glad that the little girl from the other blog was safe and got appropriate medical attention.  But urge anyone who encounters a seizure to call 911, do not self transport!  If the child has a fever use cool (not cold!) cloths or a tepid bath to cool them while you wait for paramedics.  Request transport even if your child is awake when they arrive, it is your right.  Some times people who have seizures go in to what is called a postictal state following the seizure, they can be very sleepy and disoriented, this is normal, but is important to know about.

And here is a list of seizure first aid procedures for Tonic Clonic seizures.  These are the type you see on TV, with full body involvement and jerking movements.

When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic-clonic seizures, these are the key things to remember:

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
  • Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Time the seizure with your watch.
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
  • Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can cause injury.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
  • Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

The above list is from

My own addition to this is that if you don’t know this person and they do not have a medic alert jewelry indicating they have epilepsy, calling 911 is always a good idea.  If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes I would also call. Especially for a child.

I am not condemning the woman whose blog I read today.  I know that in the heat of the moment some times your head is not on straight.  But I want to make it very clear that while getting prompt medical attention may have saved her daughters life, getting her to the hospital safely is important and next time she may not be so lucky.  The safest thing to do in any emergency that you don’t feel you can remain calm is to call 911 and if time is not on your side 911 is even more important.  The wonderful first responders who will come to  your aid are trained to drive in stressful situations, they have a vehicle that others know to move aside for and equipment to help you or your loved one arrive safely for further medical attention.


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