The Finnish Red Cross is taking part in a disaster exercise in Vaasa and Saaremaa

Jussi Vierimaa / Finnish Red Cross
Jussi Vierimaa / Finnish Red Cross

The Finnish Red Cross will carry out an exercise focusing on evacuation and rescue operations in the event of a marine disaster together with safety and rescue authorities on 14 September. At the same time, an emergency hospital evacuation exercise will be carried out in Saaremaa, Estonia.

In the scenario of the Sommarö disaster exercise organised by the West Finland Coast Guard District, a fire breaks out on the car deck of a passenger ship en route to Umeå, Sweden. Passengers and crew members have to be evacuated from the ship and life rafts to a temporary evacuation centre at the Vallgrund Coast Guard Station.

In the Sommarö exercise, the Finnish Red Cross will exercise evacuation centre operations together with the authorities. The Red Cross’ mission is to support the authorities’ rescue, medical and social services for providing care and psychological support for injured and evacuated people.

“The Red Cross has the capacity to help the authorities in rescue and aid operations in major incidents. Building on our crisis and disaster aid work in locations around the world, we have developed an evacuation hospital that suits our operations in Finland as well. In the Sommarö joint exercise, we will develop our ability to take in and take care of large numbers of people in accident and population transfer situations,” comments Director of International Operations Kalle Löövi.

Successful information distribution between various operators and authorities is one of the evacuation centres’ most important tasks. In the evacuation centre, the Red Cross’ aid workers will register the rescued passengers, clarify their situation and provide them with warm beverages and food, as well as clothes and blankets.

“An accident situation tends to disturb a person’s basic sense of security. The purpose of the psychological support is to restore that sense of security, even if only through simple actions – a warm beverage and a blanket with another person’s listening presence will help a person recover from their fear reaction. The purpose of the primary care is to also make sure that the victims can quickly contact their loved ones,” states Psychological Support Planning Officer Tuula Luoma.

Approximately 40 trained aid workers and volunteers of the Red Cross will participate in the Sommarö exercise.

Exercise for evacuating the Kuressaare Hospital in Saaremaa

In Saaremaa, Estonia, an exercise will take place for evacuating the Kuressaare Hospital in a fictitious disaster situation. The evacuation exercise will be carried out by the Estonian medical emergency group and the Estonian Red Cross, supported by the Finnish Red Cross. The exercise is designed for developing forms of co-operation and sharing know-how between various operators.

“The evacuation exercise in Saaremaa will be educational, as the island and the marine environment set their own logistical limitations,” comments Disaster Health Care Planning Officer Johanna Arvo.

The goal of the joint exercises in Vaasa and Saaremaa is to share various operators’ know-how and develop co-operation in preparing for disasters. The Sommarö exercise in Vaasa will also be observed by Red Cross representatives from other countries around the Baltic Sea.

Funds collected on Hunger Day to be used for aid in sudden crises in Finland

The Hunger Day box collection will be organised on 14–16 September across Finland. On Hunger Day, funds will be collected for the Disaster Relief Fund, the uncommitted funds of which enable the Finnish Red Cross to provide quick help in Finnish accident and crisis situations.

The Disaster Relief Fund is used to maintain the Red Cross’ material capacity, such as an evacuation centre and an evacuation hospital, and to train volunteers in psychological support, primary care and first aid. The Disaster Relief Fund is also used to fund a psychological emergency group that supports the authorities in extensive crisis situations across Finland.

On Hunger Day, you can donate:

  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to the number 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • Online at hungerday.fi
  • By calling the number 0600 12220 (€20.12 + local network charge)
  • Through MobilePay and Pivo to the number 1001
  • With a bank transfer to the account FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number 5173

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Fundraising permit: POL-2015-8798 & ÅLR 2016/8243

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