Mother and young son huggingWhen Joanne Riley’s two-year-old son Freddie had a seizure it was one of the scariest moments of her life. Then something kicked in and she knew she had to help him in any way she could. 

To mark World First Aid Day, mum Joanne shares her story and encourages other parents and carers to learn first aid so they can help if a child has a seizure.

Joanne’s story

“I still remember the day vividly. I was bathing my youngest child when I heard the sound I never wanted to hear – my husband frantically screaming for help from the bedroom.

“I grabbed my eight-month-old out of the bath and ran in to the bedroom. Freddie’s body was going stiff and shaking, his head was tilted back and I could see his eyes rolling.

“I tried calling his name to get a response, but he was not responding and didn’t seem conscious.

“It was a really traumatic experience – seeing my baby stiff and shaking and slowly watching his lips turn blue was one of the scariest moments of my life.

“I remember thinking ‘this is it, my little baby is dying’.

“Then something just kicked in. I tried to compose myself and help Freddie the best way I could.

Getting help fast

“My husband called 999 right away and while I was looking after Freddie he ran next door to get my neighbour Emma, a nurse.

“Both Emma and the ambulance staff on the phone said Freddie was most likely having a febrile seizure and that we should cool him and lie him down.

“We lay Freddie down on our bed and removed his clothes and nappy. Luckily the paramedics arrived very quickly and took him to hospital.

“It was there the doctors explained that tonsillitis had caused his high temperature which led to a febrile seizure. I was surprised to hear about how common febrile seizures actually are amongst babies and young children.

“Thankfully Freddie was fine and we went home shortly after.”

More common than you thinkA mother holds her son on her lap

Febrile seizures are one of the most common types of fit in babies and young children.

One in 20 children will have a febrile seizure, yet many parents say they don’t know what they are. Fifty nine per cent say they wouldn’t be confident about what to do if one happened.

“The symptoms look frightening but are easily treatable. We want to make sure parents feel confident, informed and can take action right away,” said Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid.

Would you know what to do?

Joanne says: “It sounds cliché but you never think these sorts of things will happen to you, just other people.

“I’ve refreshed my first aid skills on a British Red Cross baby and child course and I’d advise all parents to do the same.”