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Helsinki Rescue School not to be closed

It is vital for the safety of Helsinki and the Helsinki metropolitan area that the operations of the Helsinki Rescue School should be continued. The proposed closure of the school would result in the disappearance of the emergency medical services readiness of the first response staff, and it would seriously jeopardize the safety of Helsinki, according to a statement made by the Helsinki City Board to the Ministry of the Interior. 

The Helsinki Rescue School is part of the Centre of Excellence of the Helsinki City Rescue Department. The school trains first responders and fire foremen for the needs of the Helsinki City Rescue Department. The Ministry of the Interior plans to focus all vocational training in rescue operations in Finland to Emergency Services College in Kuopio. For this reason, the Ministry is considering a cancellation of the licenses granted earlier to the Helsinki Rescue School.

The City Board made a clear statement at its meeting of Monday, 29 October, in which it supports the continuation of the operations of the Helsinki Rescue School. In its statement, the City Board declares that the continuation of the Rescue School operations is vital to secure the resources of the metropolitan area’s emergency medical services and rescue operations. The City Board states that the Ministry of the Interior should give up its plan to cancel the licenses of the Rescue School. 

According to the Helsinki City Board, the closure of the Rescue School and the transfer of rescue training away from Helsinki would jeopardize the provision of emergency medical services and the continuation of the Helsinki City Rescue Department’s strategic performance capacity. In its statement, the City Board also refers to the view of HUS Helsinki University Hospital, according to which it is imperative that rescue training should be continued in Helsinki. 

Serious threat to safety

The provision of emergency medical services is a key part of the strategic performance capacity of the Helsinki City Rescue Department. The Rescue Department employs approximately 400 firefighters trained in emergency medical operations. They can be used flexibly for rescue operations and emergency medical services. One shift consists of approximately 40 firefighters in rescue operations and 30 firefighters in emergency medical services. The 40 firefighters in rescue operations can immediately meet the needs of emergency medical services during daily peak demand. Every fire engine is equipped for the provision of emergency medical care and also serves as an emergency medical care unit. In case of a catastrophe, the approximately 320 off-duty firefighters can be called to duty on a short notice. 

The discontinuation of the Rescue School would result in the disappearance of emergency medical training from Helsinki. In the long run, this would mean that emergency medical services would no longer be part of the responsibilities of the Helsinki City Rescue Department. At the same time, the staffing of the Rescue Department would be reduced by approximately 130 firefighters. The remaining 270 firefighters would not be sufficient to secure the daily needs of emergency medical services and to provide the resources required for catastrophes. This would be extremely adverse in terms of safety in Helsinki. Furthermore, this would reduce the overall productivity of safety services, as both rescue operations and emergency medical services providers should make separate provisions for significant increases in their resources.  

According to HUS, the discontinuation of the Helsinki Rescue School would likely cause a considerable shortage of rescue personnel in the Helsinki metropolitan area and Uusimaa. It is unlikely that a sufficient number of people residing in Southern Finland would apply to training in Kuopio and that a sufficient number of people residing elsewhere would move to the Helsinki metropolitan area after training. The shortage of workforce would be immediately reflected on emergency medical services. HUS has an agreement on cooperation with all rescue departments in the HUS operating area in the provision of emergency medical services and first response operations. The discontinuation of the Rescue School would pose a serious threat to the availability of rescue personnel not only in Helsinki but in the entire metropolitan area. 

Discontinuation would result in loss of specialized emergency medical skills

The City of Helsinki supports financially the vocational training provided by the Helsinki Rescue School. Special efforts have been made for decades to provide this training, and the training is highly cost-efficient. The emergency medical training period at the Rescue School is organized in cooperation with Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The students learn about the emergency medical services system of the metropolitan area and complete supervised on-the-job training at an emergency medical services unit. The emergency medical training provided by Metropolia is among the leading training programmes available in Finland. Metropolia University of Applied Sciences supports the continuation of the Rescue School.

The courses and the resources of the Rescue School comply with the needs of the Helsinki City Rescue Department and its total resources. The first responders graduating from the Helsinki Rescue School are ready to assume the tasks of first responders in the demanding operating conditions of Helsinki without special training, as opposed to the firefighters recruited from Emergency Services College. The discontinuation of the Rescue School would result in the loss of the flexible and vital resource created for the needs of the City of Helsinki.  

The training provided by the Rescue School is Government-financed. Economically the discontinuation of the Rescue School in Helsinki would mean that the Government would have to allocate additional resources to Emergency Services College to cover the costs of additional training. This would increase Government spending. 

The City of Helsinki sees that the organization of first responder training in Helsinki, or the transfer of the training in its entirety to the governmental Emergency Services College, should be resolved in conjunction with the total reform of rescue training with due consideration to the needs of the rescue departments of Helsinki and Uusimaa. 

City Board political groups are in agreement about Helsinki budget proposal

The City Council political groups represented on the Helsinki City Board have reached agreement on the 2019 budget proposal. The City Board also considered the budget proposal at its meeting of 29 Octoner. The budget proposal will next be considered by the City Council, which will make the final decision on the budget.

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