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Rescue operations include:

  • receiving emergency calls
  • warning the population
  • preventing a threatening accident
  • protecting and rescuing accident victims as well as people at risk, the environment and property; and
  • putting out fires and limiting damage.

In the largest population centres, rescue operations are primarily carried out by full-time crews which are continuously standing by at the fire station. In other areas, part-time personnel or contract fire brigade crews may be used.

Rescue departments’ full-time personnel have been trained as multi-skilled rescuers. They have the capabilities for responding to all types of emergencies, including patient transport and medical first response tasks. There is a dedicated training system for part-time and other contract personnel.

Command of rescue operations

A rescue mission at the scene of an accident is always led by the rescue authorities. The police and health care services can also participate in the mission in addition to the rescue department. In the accident classification, a disaster is an accident with extensive and destructive effects. The classification determines the selection and range of rescue equipment needed on a mission. In disasters, a special command centre can be established for the head of rescue services and the required experts.

Some accident types (such as large-scale and serious radiation accidents) may require rescue operations across a very wide area or even the entire country, which cannot be led by local authorities alone. In these situations, the Ministry of the Interior may assume responsibility for national measures.

Rescue departments handle 100,000 rescue missions a year Diagram: The number of rescue and assistance missions handled by the rescue services has increased considerably. While the number of these missions was 45,000 in 1996, it is currently 100,000 a year. Most of these are inspection or verification tasks.

Every year, the rescue departments complete some 100,000 rescue missions. Fire brigades are on standby to launch practical rescue operations within minutes. In all parts of the country, assistance can be delivered to the scene of an accident within 20 minutes in 90% of urgent emergency situations.