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German EMS uses QR technology to discourage illegal photography at emergency scenes

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe’s “Gaffen Tötet,” or “Gawking Kills,” campaign warns of the penalties for interfering with emergency operations

johanniter germany qr code gawking kills campaign

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe in Germany outfitted ambulances and equipment with QR codes that trigger a warning to “gawkers” who point their smartphone cameras at emergency scenes.


By Laura French

GERMANY — A German ambulance service is using QR technology to deter bystanders from illegally photographing or taking videos at emergency scenes.

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe launched its “Gaffen Tötet,” or “Gawking Kills,” campaign last month, which brings awareness to a recent law making it illegal for bystanders to take photos or videos of accident scenes, according to a statement from the ambulance service. The German law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, imposes a penalty of up to two years in prison for violations.

To bring awareness to the dangers of “gawking” and filming at emergency scenes, which can interfere with rescue operations, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe placed QR codes on some of its ambulances and EMS equipment that will send an automatic warning to someone who points a smartphone camera where the code is visible. Phone cameras that automatically scan QR codes will activate a webpage that reads, “Stop! Gawking kills!” in German.

The campaign is being piloted with eight ambulances and one intensive care vehicle in Berlin, according to Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe. If the campaign is found to be effective in deterring “gawkers,” officials said it may be expanded to more ambulances across the country.[0]=AZWwHsmkA8x3rR5nP9NM2ru90zNUiWWjn_mZvq2cCATVUY8gFaLNbmxewF7JYI6A2WZJRngFKjCtonfixo5OsIY_8f9JUSDni1yOdN2OBPZehpDj-UQMMgbEyPhtAVL18WGJkGU0Ply1vy2rEfZxEekPQwVzVZtRNoi0hRd3ggXlnw&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R