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Denmark’s Heart Runners

On August 2, 2021, my husband's grandfather suffered cardiac arrest in his home in Lejre, Denmark. His grandmother called 112, and an ambulance was sent to the scene. However, given the distance of their home from the nearest hospital, hjerteløbere (heart runners) were called to step in. Three heart runners came to the scene in an effort to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while the ambulance was on its way. Due to this, I hope to raise awareness about the heart runner programme in the hopes to save lives and honour my husband's dearly loved and missed grandfather.

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Katharine H Noyed

What is the hjerte-løber programme?

In October of 2017, TrygFonden's heart runner programme was first launched in the capital region with the mission of making Denmark a safer place to live. By 2020, this programme spanned across the entire country, with the latest data showing that more than 117,325 people are registered as heart runners. It is said that the chance of survival increases from less than 10% to over 70% when a person undergoing cardiac arrest receives CPR and a shock from an automated external defibrillator (AED) before the ambulance arrives, so heart runners perform a vital part of the Danish medical emergency response.

When someone calls 112, the emergency operator first deems whether or not the medical emergency would benefit from heart runners being notified. Then, if deemed necessary, up to twenty registered heart runners within a 5000-meter radius of the medical emergency will be notified on the app: TrygFonden Hjerteløber. Those notified will have the choice to either decline or accept the alarm. Those who accept will either be directed to the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED), whereas others will be directed to the emergency site to either perform CPR or support the family.

Where can I sign up?

Although anyone can save a life, you must be eighteen or older to become a heart runner. To learn more, go to or register on the TrygFonden Hjerteløber app. Becoming a heart runner is a way to support your community, or in the case of my husband, to honour a loved one. So consider becoming a heart runner today.

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