For a children’s leader in Maryland, it
happened during the Wednesday night program: Without warning, one
of Barbara’s preschoolers fell to the floor, jerking with muscle
spasms and rolling her eyes.
“It’s a very scary thing when a preschooler struggles to breathe
and turns blue,” says Barbara. “I was blessed with a nurse on my
team. She immediately called 911.”
“I asked a couple to drive the nervous parents to the hospital and
arranged for others to watch siblings,” says Barbara. “Then, I
contacted our pastor and prayer team.”
According to research, 3 percent of kids have a seizure before age
15. A seizure occurs when the brain functions abnormally, causing a
change in awareness, movement, and attention levels. In some
seizures children experience loss of awareness with staring or
blinking but no convulsive movements. If a child has a seizure, is
your team ready? Here are guidelines for your next training.
• Prepare. Interview parents and follow their
instructions. Provide a paging device to reach parents quickly.
Know the medically trained volunteers at your church.
• Collect yourself. You can’t stop a seizure. Let
it run its course. Stay calm; follow the predetermined
• Protect the child. Put a cushion or soft item
under the child’s head, and turn the child’s head to the side. Wipe
away discharge that might hinder breathing, but don’t restrain the
child or put anything into her mouth.
• Observe. Report observations to parents and
complete an incident form for church records. Follow up during the
week to let the child know you’re praying for him.
Seizures frighten children experiencing them, and they’re alarming
to other children. In Barbara’s case the other children knew
something was wrong and speculated that the child died because no
one informed them.
“One of our biggest lessons that day was with respect to the other
children,” says Barbara. “We should’ve gathered them into
classrooms and not led them to the hallways. First, it would’ve
helped us account for everyone in the midst of chaos. Second, we
would’ve controlled the information they and their parents
Barbara’s team talked with kids about what a future emergency might
look like and how they’d work together to care for each other.
That’s good advice for any church.
Pat Verbal is the co-author of Special Needs Special
Ministry (Group) and founder of Ministry to Today’s Child (www.ministrytotodayschild.com)
in Dallas, Texas.