Surprise and community spirit are the best thing about being a rescuer

Publication date 22.3.2024 12.59 | Published in English on 22.3.2024 at 15.04
Press release
Firefighter paramedics Suvi and Saku in the equipment hall
Suvi and Saku work as both firefighters and paramedics.

Saku Kaipainen and Suvi Johansson have extensive experience: both have worked for the Helsinki City Rescue Department as firefighters and paramedics, Saku for almost 25 years and Suvi for approximately seven years.

The Pelastajat Helsinki reality TV show started on 20 March. The show follows the work of rescuers at the Helsinki City Rescue Department up close. Senior Fire Fighter and Paramedic Saku Kaipainen is one of those featured in the episodes, filmed mostly in 2022. Fire Fighter and Paramedic Suvi Johansson would also probably been shown in the series, had she not been on maternity leave at the time the series was filmed.

Saku and Suvi work in the second shift at Kallio rescue station. Both work as fire fighters as well as paramedics, as do most of the rescuers working at the Helsinki City Rescue Department. Of the 24-hour shifts, rescuers often work 12 hours in an ambulance and the other 12 hours in a fire truck.
Work at the rescue station is varied, and Suvi states the element of surprise as one of the best sides of the job.
"Surprising situations can be challenging, but they also give the flavour to the work", Suvi says.
Another example of the good sides of the job is its versatility.
"As a paramedic, we meet people and interact with them a lot. As a fire fighter, we sweat behind our helmets. The sides are very different, but both are really interesting", she continues.

Like a second family

Saku points out the community spirit as one of the best sides of working for the City of Helsinki Rescue Department.

"Coming to work is nice every time, and our good spirit never fails even though people sometimes come or go", Saku explains, describing the community.
He adds that often he talks to his colleagues more and about deeper matters than with his family.
"We are each other’s lifeline, and we support each other", he says.

There are challenges, as well. Suvi mentions the exhaustion caused by not getting enough sleep as the mother of small children, Saku notes the mental stress caused by the element of surprise and the responsibility.
"You never know what will be waiting in an apartment, for example, whether you go there as a fire fighter or paramedic", Saku says.

Trying to catch a duck in freezing water

Both Suvi and Saku have many good and tragic memories from their assignments. Suvi mentions one case that she remembers.

"Someone called in panic to say that a duck had been stuck in the ice. I had to swim to the duck to see how it was doing", Suvi recalls.
"The duck was playing around as I tried to check its condition. It kept diving below me or to the side, as I tried to reach it. People gathered on the shore to watch as I splashed around the icy water after the bird", she says.
The duck was not in any trouble.

Saku mentions one of the cases seen on the Pelastajat Helsinki series, where they rescued a worker stuck in a crew lift using a lifting platform.
"There are so many moving parts when you operate the lifting platform by yourself. Decisions have to be made quickly when someone is hanging from something at a height", he says. 
This case also had a happy ending. Saku does not mention any single one of the more difficult cases, but he describes the type he finds the most touching.
"I find that cases where children and young people are involved in accidents are saddest."

Popular reality TV

The Pelastajat Helsinki show started on 20 March on TV5 and in Discovery+. The documentary show follows the work of the City of Helsinki Rescue Department at close range. The rescuers, whose everyday life is punctuated by challenging and varied assignments, step into the spotlight. The viewers can also see glimpses of the demanding and busy everyday life of paramedics, EMS doctors, and executive fire officers.

The show, spanning 20 episodes, provides an extensive view of the work of a rescuer. Among others, a worker stuck in a crew lift, a woman collapsed in front of a restaurant, a two-week-old premature baby with breathing difficulties, a person who jumped into the icy sea, and a man with a life-threatening stab wound require immediate help.

Watch the trailer for the show


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