Background: The European resuscitation council have highlighted emergency medical dispatch centres as an important key player for early recognition of Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) and in providing dispatcher assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before arrival of emergency medical services. Early recognition is associated with increased bystander CPR and improved survival rates. The aim of this study is to describe OHCA call handling in emergency medical dispatch centres in Copenhagen (Denmark), Stockholm (Sweden) and Oslo (Norway) with focus on sensitivity of recognition of OHCA, provision of dispatcher-assisted CPR and time intervals when CPR is initiated during the emergency call (NO-CPRprior), and to describe OHCA call handling when CPR is initiated prior to the emergency call (CPRprior). Methods: Baseline data of consecutive OHCA eligible for inclusion starting January 1st 2016 were collected from respective cardiac arrest registries. A template based on the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival definition catalogue was used to extract data from respective cardiac arrest registries and from corresponding audio files from emergency medical dispatch centres. Cases were divided in two groups: NO-CPRprior and CPRprior and data collection continued until 200 cases were collected in the NO-CPRprior-group. Results: NO-CPRprior OHCA was recognised in 71% of the calls in Copenhagen, 83% in Stockholm, and 96% in Oslo. Abnormal breathing was addressed in 34, 7 and 98% of cases and CPR instructions were started in 50, 60, and 80%, respectively. Median time (mm:ss) to first chest compression was 02:35 (Copenhagen), 03:50 (Stockholm) and 02:58 (Oslo). Assessment of CPR quality was performed in 80, 74, and 74% of the cases. CPRprior comprised 71 cases in Copenhagen, 9 in Stockholm, and 38 in Oslo. Dispatchers still started CPR instructions in 41, 22, and 40% of the calls, respectively and provided quality assessment in 71, 100, and 80% in these respective instances. Conclusions: We observed variations in OHCA recognition in 71–96% and dispatcher assisted-CPR were provided in 50–80% in NO-CPRprior calls. In cases where CPR was initiated prior to emergency calls, dispatchers were less likely to start CPR instructions but provided quality assessments during instructions.