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Managing in the Event of an Episode

It is vital that those responsible for a young person with syncope know the correct procedure to adopt in the event of a syncopal episode.

The emergency care procedure will differ slightly depending upon the individual’s specific condition, i.e not everyone experiences an anoxic seizure

  • Ensure that the individual is in the recovery position and check that their airways are clear.
  • Remove any safety hazards from the immediate area.
  • Talk continuously throughout the episode offering reassurance.  It is known that the individual can sometimes hear during an attack but cannot answer.
  • It should not be necessary to call an ambulance or a doctor unless this is their first ever episode (i,e there is no record and you are unaware that the individual suffers from a medical condition), if they sustained a possible injury during the episode, or if they remain unconscious/the seizure lasts longer than 2 and a half minutes. Refer to the care plan and parental guidance to judge the necessary action to take.
  • Upon immediate recovery, provide reassurance and comfort to the individual. Only allow them to sit up when they are ready and able.
  • Refer to their care plan (if this is not a first time episode) for individual details on how to proceed (i.e whether to call parents, arrange for a place to rest and recover etc). Always inform parents even if the young person does not leave the premises.
  • Record the episode, its length and any warning signs.

The surrounding environment:

It is important that you know how to manage not only the syncopal episode, but the surrounding environment in which it occurs. In an educational setting there will undoubtedly be other children present if and when an episode occurs. It is important to keep everyone calm and away from the immediate scene. Try to keep everyone quiet as upon recovery a child can be noise-sensitive.

An explanation of what has happened to suit the age group of the children present may help them to understand and prevent any upset and panic which could occur if they are not used to their classmate’s blackouts, especially if this is the first they have witnessed. Some individuals are sensitive about informing their peers about their condition, so you must discuss who can be informed with the child and parent(s)/guardian(s) at the outset.

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