Project Lighthouse

Supporting citizen bystanders during and after medical emergencies

In Denmark, there are more than 200,000 critical accidents and emergencies (‘A’ calls’) each year, that require the immediate dispatch of an ambulance. On average, for every patient involved, there are two bystanders at the emergency scene - these people can be family, friends, acquaintances or even strangers.

“We have 5,000 cardiac arrests in Denmark each year. There’s always someone watching.”
- Paramedic

Bystanders play a critical role prior to the ambulance arriving – they call for help, they help coordinate the scene and also provide lifesaving interventions – yet, no one is formally responsible for their health and well-being after the emergency is over and the ambulance leaves.

Witnessing or intervening in an emergency can be a traumatic experience. If bystanders don’t have the support or tools to process the event effectively, it can lead to mental health consequences in the future. Of the bystanders who experience a life-threatening emergency, 1 in 4 develop some psychological symptoms - they might have flashbacks, trouble sleeping or more emotional highs and lows.

“Afterwards I was lying in my bed and crying, I didn’t understand what happened. Could I have done anything differently in some way? I still feel like it’s my fault he died.”
- Bystander

At Falck we believe it is important to support everyone involved in an emergency. In collaboration with psychologists, paramedics, and former bystanders, Falck has been developing new solutions that protocolise bystander support and better protect their mental health after an emergency. The solutions focus providing on-scene diffusion, supporting bystanders to build a clear narrative around the incident and releasing guilt and doubt around their own actions.

“The sooner we help, the higher the chances we minimise the need for help. They might not need a long counselling session, but they need to check-in”
- Crisis Psychologist, Denmark

The new solutions are currently live and being piloted in Region Sjælland. The pilot will enable us to assess their feasibility and impact and better understand how they could be scaled to other areas in Denmark.

If you have experienced the solutions and you need more guidance or have more questions you can reach out at You can also learn more about the background research and overall process here and about Falck's innovation approach here.

Data Source: Representative survey on life threatening emergencies – fielded by Megafon, 2021

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Head of Global Innovation

Eilidh Dickson

Head of Global Innovation

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