Rescue operations include:
- receiving emergency calls;
- warning the public;
- preventing potential accidents;
- rotecting people, property and the environment against danger, and rescuing accident victims.
Rescue operations thus include fire-fighting and rescue tasks and limiting damage.
The Länsi-Uusimaa Rescue Department has more than 90 rescue and emergency medical care professionals on constant stand-by in different parts of the region, at 12 fire stations.
In addition, rescue operations in the area are carried out by 40 contract fire brigades, two military fire brigades, two industrial fire brigades, four maritime rescue associations and part-time personnel in Tenhola and Hanko.
Rescue operations can be carried out quickly, efficiently and safely in daily situations, major accidents and in abnormal and emergency conditions.
The operational readiness of rescue services consists of five elements:
- number and quality of personnel;
- quantity and quality of equipment;
- operational plans drawn up in advance;
- organisation of the command system;
- response time of rescue operations.
The response time of rescue operations refers to the time it takes from the first rescue unit receiving an emergency call until the rescue unit starts effective rescue operations.
The human resources of rescue services consist of full-time and part-time personnel and contract fire brigade personnel.
The rescue services command system is in charge of the operational readiness and rescue operations of the rescue department. The command system of the rescue services consists of an chief on duty, a situation centre, on-call executive fire officers and rescue unit chiefs/sub-officers.
The Länsi-Uusimaa Rescue Department is divided into three emergency areas and each area has an on-call executive fire officer. The Rescue Department has 12 full-time fire foremen who act as rescue unit chiefs/sub-officers.
Rescue operation plans are part of the operational readiness of the Rescue Department. The purpose of the plans is to ensure the necessary resources based on risks and to define the necessary operating models for rescue operations and the command system.
The capacity of rescue services has been scaled to meet the risk of accidents in the region. In order to determine sufficient operational readiness, the rescue services area has been divided into risk categories. The resources for rescue operations are scaled so that accidents can be dealt with efficiently and with appropriate resources.
The operational readiness of rescue services also takes account of abnormal and emergency conditions.
A fire is an event where fire causes or threatens to cause damage. Fires can be divided into building fires, wildfires and vehicle fires, for example. The Rescue Act lays down measures related to the prevention and extinguishing of fires.
Storms, heavy rains and floods increase the need for rescue operations, which means that some people may have to wait a while before help reaches them. Therefore, we recommend that you plan in advance what you would do in case of a natural disaster and how you would survive in your home without electricity or running water. For information about home emergency supplies, read the home security guide (in Finnish).
The Rescue Department can help if a storm has torn apart roof structures or a tree has fallen or is in danger of falling on a building or road. As a rule, trees fallen over power lines are cleared by the local electricity plant.
Try to prevent flood water from entering places where it can cause damage. Floods often damage or threaten to damage many buildings at the same time, so the Rescue Department cannot help everyone at once. Often, there is also a need for professionals specialising in certain tasks.
The home-owner’s flood safety guide (in Finnish) published by the Kymenlaakso Rescue Department provides practical tips on how to prepare for floods and what to do during and after a flood.
You can also read the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s instructions for sudden floods (in Finnish).
If you find yourself in an emergency in or around water, call the emergency number 112 or the national maritime search and rescue emergency number 0294 1000.
Rescue operations in inland waters
Rescue operations in inland waters are led by rescue authorities. All our permanent rescue units and separately defined contract fire brigades possess surface rescue capabilities. Surface rescue refers to rescue operations carried out from the surface of the water or immediately underneath the surface without diving equipment.
The Länsi-Uusimaa Rescue Department is able to carry out surface rescue operations everywhere in its region. The fire stations in Niittykumpu, Kirkkonummi, Lohja and Tammisaari are prepared for carrying out underwater rescue diving operations.
Rescue operations at sea
The increase in maritime traffic has also increased the likelihood of serious accidents at sea. The Finnish Border Guard and coastal rescue departments have developed cooperation procedures for chemical and other accidents at sea. These skills are maintained through annual training events.
Maritime search and rescue operations are led and coordinated by the Finnish Border Guard. The Rescue Department takes part in the operations by providing assistance and equipment.
For water rescue operations, the Rescue Department has a wide range of vessels and other rescue equipment.
The Rescue Department is also prepared for other accidents in water areas, such as providing emergency medical care on an island, responding to water traffic accidents and extinguishing fires on ships or islands.
Accidents involving hazardous substances are sudden and unexpected accidents that have harmful consequences. Hazardous substances are classified according to their properties. A substance is hazardous if it can harm people, property or the environment due to its explosiveness, flammability, radioactivity, toxicity, corrosiveness or other property.
There are several locations in the Western Uusimaa region where chemicals are handled and stored on a large scale.
In addition, the transport of hazardous substances by rail and road across the region poses a risk of accidents. The breaking of a container used for transporting or storing hazardous substances may be a great risk to the population, industrial personnel or the environment in the area.
The Rescue Department is prepared for accidents involving hazardous substances. We practise at risk sites in the region on a regular basis. We have placed our response equipment according to the risks in the region.
All our permanent rescue units have the equipment needed for initiating the first response operations in an accident involving hazardous substances. In addition, special equipment has been placed in an emergency response container at the Lohja fire station, at the Espoo heavy rescue unit and regionally in trailers and fire stations.
The rescue departments in the Uusimaa region have jointly prepared for accidents involving hazardous substances by investing in compatible equipment and a shared hazardous materials unit. The unit is located at the central fire station of the Keski-Uusimaa Rescue Department and can reach almost the entire region within an hour. In addition, the Helsinki Rescue Department has human decontamination equipment that can be used in the entire Uusimaa region.
The Länsi-Uusimaa Rescue Department does not have a separate animal rescue unit; instead, we carry out these tasks alongside our other tasks and according to the resources available.
People often want to protect and help small animals even if there is no need. For example, a young bird or hare that appears to have been abandoned has most likely not been abandoned, but the mother observes the situation nearby and will return to their young once the human has left. The mother is the best carer for their young.
Unknowingly, humans can cause damage to wild animals by interfering with their lives. For example, wrong nutrition may cause developmental disorders in young animals. Always think first whether the animal really needs help.
You should also consider your own safety. For example, on thin ice and in high places, it is best that the animal’s condition is determined by a trained rescue professional using safety equipment.
You can ask for help in determining an animal’s condition from the Helsinki Zoo’s wildlife hospital. The phone number of the wildlife hospital is 040 334 2954.
Oil spill response
The Western Uusimaa Rescue Department is responsible for oil spill response in the region’s land areas, inland waters, coastal areas and inland archipelago. In addition, we participate in response activities led by the Finnish Border Guard if there has been an oil spill or chemical spill from a vessel in Finnish territorial waters or the Finnish exclusive economic zone.
In oil spill response activities, we use special equipment that is stored in the oil spill response depots of the Rescue Department. They are located in Hanko, Tammisaari, Lohja, Kirkkonummi and Espoo’s central fire station. The Rescue Department’s largest oil recovery vessels have been placed evenly throughout the rescue services area.
A major accident is an accident that is particularly serious due to the number of dead or injured people, the amount of damage to the environment or property, or the nature of the accident.
Major accidents may, for example, be caused by traffic accidents, fires, explosions, nuclear power plant accidents, wars, radiation or chemical accidents caused by hazardous chemicals, extensive natural disasters, waterborne epidemics or infectious diseases.
There are seven facilities in the Länsi-Uusimaa Rescue Department’s area whose operations require the operator to draw up a safety report.