We protect and rescue people, property, the environment, and the capital city’s functionalities as well as limit and mitigate the damage and consequences of accidents and civilian crises caused by people, technical failures or nature.
Rescue operations are statutory authority activities that include accepting emergency calls, warning the population, preventing threatening accidents, protecting and rescuing accident victims and people in danger, extinguishing fires and limiting damage and the management, communication, service and other support operations related to these activities. At the scene of the accident, rescue operations are led by the rescue authority.
Helsinki City Rescue Department employs more than 500 specially trained rescue paramedics and approximately 75 full-time paramedics.
For Helsinki’s special needs, our rescuers have received extensive special training in all the threats that the capital of the country may face. The work of a rescue paramedic demands multi-skilled expertise. The normal work shift is 24 hours, 12 hours of which is performed on fire and rescue missions in a rescue unit and 12 hours in emergency medical service duties in an ambulance. After the shift, the employee has three days off.
Helsinki Rescue Department has eleven rescue stations throughout the city. The Suomenlinna Rescue Station is open from May until late autumn. For fire-fighting and rescue missions, the Emergency Response Centre alerts the nearest rescue unit, which exists at all rescue stations. If necessary, Helsinki’s fifteen contract fire brigades are deployed. Cooperation across the borders of rescue service regions has been agreed between the rescue departments of Helsinki, Itä-Uusimaa, Keski-Uusimaa and Länsi-Uusimaa.
Management of rescue operations
The principle of rescue services is that the rescue units, i.e. fire trucks, pull away within one minute of the alarm and the target is reached within a five-minute drive. Our operational preparedness has been designed so that the system can withstand even if the alarms become congested. If all our own units are on alert, we will increase the preparedness of contract fire brigades or ask for help from neighbouring municipalities.
Rescue services are managed from the Situation Centre at the Central Rescue Station, where the on-call fire officer is responsible for maintaining the situational awareness and supports the director of rescue operations at the accident site in decision-making and accident communication. We also have a command centre unit that can be quickly moved to the vicinity of the accident area. If the accident is of long duration, we will establish a separate control centre in the shelters of the Rescue Department.
The preparedness of rescue operations for disasters is based on a good preparedness for everyday accidents. Rescue operations in disasters also require extensive and seamless cooperation between all the authorities participating in the rescue operations as well as enhanced use of the rescue operations’ management systems and resources used in the operations.
Rescue operations as part of emergency response
Our rescuers have been trained in emergency medical service and can thus provide quick emergency medical service to injured persons at the scene of an accident. If necessary, our rescue units operate as part of the emergency medical service and carry out first response operations. If all the ambulances are on an assignment, we can send the closest rescue unit to the patient. This way, we can get help to the person who needs it more quickly and treatment can be started without delay.