Red Cross licensed to take action in disturbances

Arto Tulima
Image: Arto Tulima

The Finnish Red Cross and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have updated the way they work together on preparedness for accidents and in first-aid operations. The new agreement means that in a situation of public disturbance the Red Cross can, for the first time, also begin to coordinate other volunteer groups, in addition to the Voluntary Rescue Service.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health encourages local authorities to make agreements with the Red Cross regarding the use of volunteers during aid operations. The decision is based on a government-approved security strategy for Finland. According to the strategy, NGOs will play an important role in preparedness work.

The Red Cross is tasked with recruiting and training a large number of volunteers to support the work of Social Affairs and Healthcare operations. Each region must have enough trained help available from, among others, voluntary first aid, first care and psychosocial support groups. Dozens of organisations make up the Voluntary Rescue Service.

The closer cooperation between the Finnish Red Cross and the Ministry is also intended to cover the storage of equipment ready for use by the Red Cross when they are needed to provide international aid.

The Red Cross continues to coordinate first-aid training and first-aid programmes in Finland. Throughout the country, all participants in first-aid courses receive the same training. The Red Cross is responsible for teacher training, which is divided into first aid and health on the one hand and life-saving first aid on the other. Similarly, the Finnish Red Cross maintains a register of approved first-aid trainers and keeps tabs on the number of people trained in first aid.