History

The idea of a need for an international, unbiased aid organisation was born during the Battle of Solferino in 1859.

Historical facts
  • The first staffed field hospital equipped by the Finnish Red Cross left for the war in Turkey in 1877, only two months after the association was established.
  • The organisation of first aid courses began in 1885 with the training of railway workers and policemen.
  • The making of first aid kits was started in 1929, initially for the needs of countryside and remote districts.
  • The organisation of blood donations was transferred to the Red Cross in 1948.

Swiss Henri Dunant organised volunteers to help the victims of the Battle of Solferino in Northern Italy in 1859, and wrote a book about his experiences, A Memory of Solferino (1862). In his book, Dunant proposed that a voluntary organisation be started in every country to help provide medical care in time of war and that the care of the wounded would be ensured through international treaties.

As early as the following year, a committee was established in Geneva, which in 1876 became the International Committee of the Red Cross. Based on Dunant’s thoughts, it specified the aid organisations’ tasks and recommended their establishment.

Soon national organisations began to be formed in different parts of Europe and later on other continents, too. In many countries, the task that was taken on from the very beginning was helping the victims of disasters and fighting against diseases. In Finland, a national association called the Association for the Treatment of the Wounded and Sick Soldiers was established in May 1877.
 

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