The Finnish Red Cross arranges its first national disaster drill

Kaisa Sirén
On the 16th of February the Finnish Red Cross arranges its first national disaster-preparedness exercise called Midwinter rehearsals.
Image: Kaisa Sirén

The Finnish Red Cross arranges its first national disaster-preparedness exercise called Midwinter rehearsals on the 16th of February.

The organization rehearses its readiness for winter storms. Its volunteers practice how to operate in situations where an exceptionally fierce storm would cause nationwide disruption such as cutting out power lines and damaging heat distribution and telephone lines.

– There is a great demand for this kind of exercise, since we’ve had tough storms in Finland before. That’s why we rehearse together with the authorities and our partners, to be able to operate in such exceptional circumstances. This is also a chance for us to update our preparedness plans on a local level, says Ari Saarinen who is Chief of Preparedness for Häme district and coordinates the disaster drill.

Acts of caring in over 200 different locations

The Midwinter event is the Finnish Red Cross’ first national disaster drill of this size. It will be attended by Red Cross volunteers from over 200 cities all across the country.

During the event, rehearsals are carried out amongst other afternoon activities. The volunteers are responsible for arranging the event and organizing and reporting for it is an essential part of the task.

In several districts, events are organized at sheltered accommodation or retirement homes. Volunteers arrange programmes for their guests and familiarize themselves with how they could assist authorities with evacuating and delivering information about the situation.

– The Red Cross has traditionally arranged feel-good events on Valentine’s Day especially in sheltered homes. This year we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a two-day delay and we’re inviting people along to the Midwinter events to experience a day full of programme and activities, Saarinen says.

Some of the Midwinter events are arranged in one place, others will include transportation of guests to the event location and back. This is so that the volunteers are able to practice assisted evacuation.

The Midwinter events are arranged in collaboration with LocalTapiola insurance group, which is the main partner of the Finnish Red Cross and supports the organization’s friend visitor activities.

For further information, please contact:
Outi Pärnänen, Head of the Department of Information, tel. 040 838 8919
Ari Saarinen, Chief of Preparedness of Häme district, 040 589 5780