People present when someone is having an epileptic seizure should by no means try to restrain the person or put a bite block into the person's mouth, warned Bernhard Steinhoff, a member of the advisory council of the German Neurology Society (DGN). Otherwise injuries could occur to either the epileptic, the would-be helpers or both, he said.
Instead, bystanders should clear away potentially dangerous objects, he advised. They could also cushion or surround the person to protect him or her from injuries. Emergency medications should be given, if need be, only by experienced family members who have been trained how to do so.
Those witnessing a seizure should remain until the person has recovered. They should make sure the person's airways are unobstructed and remove any dentures once the seizure has subsided.
According to the DGN, it is also a good idea to make a note of the duration and symptoms of the seizure in order to inform a doctor afterwards.
If the epileptic, after a single seizure causing no visible injuries, refuses to be taken to hospital, this wish should be respected. However, bystanders should definitely summon an emergency physician if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, several seizures occur in succession, or the person remains groggy for longer than 20 or 30 minutes after the seizure.