As a young person living with epilepsy, Gavin Bouchey knows that it’s all fine and well if he, his family members and his fellow Scouts BSA members know how to respond to a seizure.
But what about everyone else in his community?
For his Eagle Scout project, Gavin, from Troop 112 in Carmel, Indiana, organized, promoted and successfully conducted a seizure first-aid training session.
“I wanted to do something for people outside my troop so they can help people who are having a seizure,” Gavin says.
Around 1 in 10 people will have some kind of seizure at least once in their lifetime, according to the CDC. When you look at it like that, being prepared to help someone who’s having a seizure is just as important as knowing other basic first-aid measures.
“This training can help save a life,” says Gavin.
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the world, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. It causes sudden, unprovoked seizures that are the result of electrical activity in the brain.
Not all seizures are the result of epilepsy, but a doctor may diagnose a patient with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures, or one unprovoked seizure with a high risk of more.
Seeing someone have a seizure can be scary, just like it could be scary to see someone suffering from hypothermia or dehydration.
And just like with other aspects of first aid, proper training can go a long way toward improving your ability to respond properly.
Gavin worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana to develop the materials for his training session. He recruited volunteers to help promote the event by handing out fliers and bookmarks with seizure first-aid basics printed on them.
When his session was over, the participants had to complete a quiz to receive their certificates.
“It felt important for me to do a project that helped others with epilepsy,” Gavin says. “I have had seizures in places where someone didn’t know how to help me, so I wanted to try to make a change to that for others.”
What to do if someone is having a seizure
There are many different types of seizures, and during some of them a person may be unaware of what is going on or lose consciousness. Knowing what to do when someone has a seizure can make a real difference.
The Epilepsy Foundation lists the following steps as basic seizure first aid:
- Always stay with the person until the seizure is over.
- Pay attention to how long the seizure lasts.
- Stay calm. Most seizures last only a few minutes.
- Prevent injury by moving nearby objects out of the way.
- Make the person as comfortable as possible.
- Keep onlookers away.
- Don’t hold the person down.
- Don’t put anything in the person’s mouth.
- Don’t give water, pills or food by mouth unless the person is fully alert.
- Make sure their breathing is OK.
- Know when to call for emergency medical help.
- Be sensitive and supportive and ask others to do the same.