I work for a major university medical center, so I have the benefit of nearly constantly being among healthcare professionals – whether they be physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners, medical assistants, etc. I am fairly confident that, should something in my body go rogue [between the hours of 8-5, Monday thru Friday], the odds are in my favor that someone within earshot will be available to help a gal out.
I was in a training class last spring for a new Accounting/Payroll/HR program the university was about to implement campus-wide. It was an afternoon session, and about half-way through we were recessed for a ten minute break. Fellow trainees were up for a stretch, getting tea or a snack, or out in the hallway to check their messages. I stayed at my desktop station since I had everything I needed, and so did the girl who was sitting in the row directly behind me.
As one does, I was facing forward in my chair, checking my email, minding my business—then suddenly I heard a series of loud noises coming from directly behind me. I turned around, and the girl sitting behind me was yelling noises, not words, and then her arms flew up over her head and she proceeded to fall to the floor and have a grand maul seizure. I had never witnessed a real-life seizure situation, and thusly I had absolutely no idea what to do. Within two seconds, several other trainees from my class dove to the floor to get the girl away from the desks and chairs to keep her from injuring herself, and they gently held her on her side and supported her head. Someone else called 911 and another person ran outside to direct the paramedics when they arrived. All of this happened within seconds.
It is the office workers, y’all, not the physicians and nurses, who attend classes about university accounting, payroll, and human resources. People with jobs similar to mine [zero patient contact] stepped in and did their part to rectify the situation. I remember being incredibly impressed watching these people communicate with each other and work in such a synchronized fashion. It made me so full of pride to work where I do—and it reiterated that I get to work with amazing people. The one thing I recall contributing, was picking up the girl’s cup of tea which got knocked over during the event.
From witnessing this situation and how it was handled, and recognizing that it was handled successfully, I gained new knowledge about steps to take in this particular type of emergency. Does the seizing person have anyone with them – a family member or friend? If so, ask them if the person has a history of seizures, is epileptic, or currently takes medication for seizures. I learned that, in some instances as these, it may not be necessary to have the seizing person transported via ambulance to a hospital. If the person is alone, it is always best to call 911 for help. The person may require immediate testing to determine the cause of their seizure, especially if this is their very first event. The girl from work told us that it was her first seizure when the paramedics successfully woke her up. Before that day, I didn’t even know that, at the conclusion of a grand maul seizure, the person often settles into a deep sleep.
While I was quite shaken from the unpleasant surprise of witnessing my first seizure event, I was grateful to have seen it happen the way it did. People stepped in who were familiar with this type of situation, they handled it, sought medical assistance, the paramedics arrived, and the girl was taken care of. I knew that day, should I ever encounter such an event again, I would feel much more confident about offering to contribute to a person’s care until a medical professional could take over -- even more so than picking up a spilled cup of tea.