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Pilot support service: provided or witnessed CPR

About the pilot service

People in Scotland who have performed CPR on someone or witnessed someone receiving CPR can now access support to help them process what they’ve experienced through a new pilot service.

In partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Save a Life for Scotland and with funding from the Scottish Government, we’ve developed a 12-week support service to help people who witness CPR or provide CPR to someone who has an out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) at home or in a public place.

Paramedics will be carrying wallet cards with our Advice Line contact details and links to further resources so people can access the support service.

The pilot service will be delivered by our Advice Line team, made up of trained healthcare professionals, who will offer a free telephone listening and support service for up to 12 weeks, signposting people to further support if required.

The team will provide advice, support and a friendly, listening ear as they help service users process what they’ve experienced.

Access pilot support service

Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA)

Every year there are approximately 9000 calls to the ambulance service after suspected sudden cardiac arrest in the community. Where appropriate, ambulance service call handlers will instruct bystanders to perform compression only CPR while paramedics are on their way to the scene.

It is estimated that between 3000 and 6000 individuals are involved in attempting to resuscitate fellow members of the public in this way – some will be family members, some strangers, some merely onlookers, all are likely to be impacted by the experience.

Previously in Scotland there was no formal support service available for members of the public who carried out CPR on a stranger, friend, neighbour or family member.

All bystanders, including those who witness an OHCA, can be impacted. Research confirms that people may experience emotional and social challenges, and some struggle to cope in life after providing CPR in OHCA incidents.

The pilot support service can help the majority of bystanders who are making sense of their OHCA event and identify those who will require referral to specialist services for longer term psychological support.

Lynsey’s Story

In November 2021, Lynsey’s father-in-law John collapsed at home after a cardiac arrest. Lynsey battled for 20 minutes to save his life, performing CPR, before paramedics arrived. Sadly their efforts were in vain and John, 70, passed away.

As a nurse, Lynsey had been involved in CPR before, but the aftermath of John’s death was different because she’d never had to administer the treatment to a member of her own family. The experience left her upset but she didn’t want to share her feelings with her grieving loved ones.

That’s why Lynsey is urging others to contact our Advice Line if they need someone to talk to. Watch Lynsey’s story.

This page was last updated on October 31, 2023 and is under regular review. If you feel anything is missing or incorrect, please contact to provide feedback.

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