Sunday, April 07, 2024

EMS Neurological Emergencies - Seizure Disorders

EMS Providers play a crucial role in managing seizure disorders in prehospital settings. Here are key points they need to know:

Understanding Seizure Disorders: EMS providers should have a basic understanding of seizure disorders, including their causes, types, and manifestations. 

Seizures can vary widely in presentation, from generalized tonic-clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures) to focal seizures with or without impaired awareness.

Assessment & Initial Management: Upon arrival at the scene, EMS providers should assess the patient's airway, breathing, and circulation (ABCs) to ensure immediate life-saving interventions if necessary. They should also assess the patient's level of consciousness, vital signs, and any signs of injury.

Patient Safety: Ensuring patient safety is paramount during a seizure. EMS providers should protect the patient from injury by removing any nearby objects that could cause harm and placing them in a safe position, such as lying on their side to prevent aspiration.

Duration of Seizure: EMS providers should note the duration of the seizure. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes (or according to local protocols), it is considered a medical emergency known as status epilepticus and requires prompt intervention.

Medication & Intervention: EMS providers may administer medications such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Midazolam, Lorazepam) to terminate prolonged seizures. Intravenous access should be established if possible to administer medications effectively.

Continuous Monitoring: EMS providers should continuously monitor the patient's vital signs and level of consciousness throughout the seizure and during transport to the hospital. They should also be prepared to manage any complications that may arise, such as respiratory compromise or injury.

Documentation & Communication: Accurate documentation of the seizure event, including its onset, duration, and any interventions performed, is essential for continuity of care. EMS providers should also communicate effectively with receiving healthcare providers to ensure seamless transition of care.

Patient Education & Follow-up: After the seizure episode, EMS providers may provide education to the patient and their caregivers on seizure management, including medication adherence and seizure precautions. They should also ensure appropriate follow-up care with a healthcare provider.

By understanding seizure disorders and following appropriate protocols and guidelines, EMS providers can effectively manage seizures in prehospital settings and improve patient outcomes. 

Ongoing training and education in the management of neurological emergencies are essential for EMS personnel.

Further Reading:

Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice Volume 2 (6th Ed) Pearson.

Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Online Resources:


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