Follow-up Program for First Aid Providers

This project will develop and implement a follow-up program for first aid providers. The program will include those who have been present or provided first aid to an unconscious person.

This is a subproject of the national campaign «Saving lives together».

The Importance of First Aid

Every year more than 3500 people experience sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Norway. The most important factors for survival consist of bystanders calling emergency medical dispatch number 113 as well as initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Bystander CPR can increase the probability of survival by a threefold. Since the 1960s society have provided the public with extensive first aid training and strongly encouraged everyone to provide first aid.

Saving lives together

In 2017, the national campaign «Saving lives together» was introduced to better prepare the society for cardiac arrest and other time critical conditions. «Saving lives together» aim to mobilize the public as a prehospital resource by implementing extensive and widespread first aid training.


Ambulance workers provide first aid to person on the ground. Woman stands alone

Ambulance workers provide Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS). First aid provider stand alone. Foto: Svein Lunde, SUS.

A tough experience

Preforming CPR can be a tough experience, especially for lay rescuers with no medical background. Such an incidence can lead to persistent adverse effects. Many struggle with guilt for providing insufficient CPR. In addition, many worry about the patient's outcome. First aid providers have no possibility of obtaining such information, except for those who are next of kin. First aid providers can experience flashbacks, sleeping disorders, weight loss, anxiety, concentration difficulties, reduced work capacity etc. These results were presented in a study conducted by Mathiesen and Bjørshol et al. at Stavanger University Hospital. Until now, there has been nowhere for first aid providers to turn for help to process their traumatic experience.

Training in first aid is not sufficient to prepare people for the psychological strain they will undertake both during and after taking part in a first aid situation. Medical personnel often conduct a debrief after severe incidents. However, first aid providers are seldom included, though it may have been their efforts which had the greatest impact on the patient's outcome The purpose of this follow-up program is to help the first aid providers to process a difficult experience. Simultaneously, we wish to help them attain a sense of achievement despite the personal strain following the first aid incidence.   

Target group

This project is operated by RAKOS and collaborates with both the national campaign "Saving lives together" and the Norwegian Directorate of Health. The follow-up program will be offered to people who have been present or provided first aid to an unconscious victim who later was treated by the emergency medical services at Helse Stavanger.  In the first phase the follow-up program will address lay rescuers, volunteer first responders and health care personnel who have provided first aid outside work. In the future, we aim to include first aid providers who have been involved in situations with stroke, severe injury and other severe incidences.

This program will consist of the following components:

1. A consultation with experienced health care professionals
Equivalent to a debriefing, in which health care professionals participate regularly.  No information concerning the specific incidence or specific patient will be revealed.  Medical and technical questions from the first aid provider will be answered on a general basis.

2. Information regarding patient outcome
Many first aid providers wish to know the patient's outcome, even if the patient might have died. It is important that the first aid provider is not left with guilt after a negative outcome (86 % of all cardiac arrest patients die). For health care professionals there is an opening in the legislation which provides them with the opportunity to obtain information concerning the patient's outcome. It is reasonable to think that lay rescuers and volunteer first responders who provide life-saving first aid, should receive at least some of this information. Therefore, we will to try to obtain consent from the patients or their next of kin to reveal the outcome.

 3. Information about contagious diseases and testing
First aid providers are rarely exposed to infectious diseases.  However, the risk of contracting a contagious disease may cause great concern for some. If the first aid provider addresses the topic or if we believe there is a reasonable chance they may have contracted a disease, this will be handled. If necessary, we will advise the first aid provider to contact their general physician for a consultation and possible testing.

4. Feedback to the health care system
It is important to obtain feedback from the first aid providers. Both information about their experience of providing first aid and their experience with the emergency medical services may be useful. All relevant feedback will be conveyed in order to improve the emergency medical services.

Further Follow-up

Most first aid providers will not be in need of further follow-up than what is portrayed in this project. However, if some should in fact show symptoms of psychological disorders due to the first aid incidents (such as anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts etc.) they will be referred to the ordinary health care system for diagnosis and treatment.  

If this project has the intended effects on the first aid providers, we will strive to establish a similar follow-up program in the remaining health trusts in the country. Our goal is that all first aid providers should be offered follow-up from experienced health care personnel as part of the national health care system. Simultaneously we will conduct research on the follow-up program and first aid providers. We wish to investigate the need for this project as well as the effects it has on the first aid providers.


Please call us on phone number: 903 66 529.

The offer is free and we have a duty of confidentiality.

Please contact Anna Moe Øvstebø in case of questions.

In case of emergency call 113

If it's a little urgent, call the emergency room 116117

For more information about the Follow up program see: Førstehjelpere - Helse Stavanger (


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