An overview is being compiled of volunteer rescue activities in ten states in the Baltic Sea Region. The aim of the research project is to improve international cooperation and society’s ability to function in the event of various natural and man-made accidents, along with improving preparedness for such accidents. The Finnish National Rescue Association has overall responsibility for the project’s implementation.

Meren rantaa.

No comprehensive overview of voluntary rescue and civil defence activities in the Baltic Sea Region has been made to date. This need is now being met by the Volunteer Rescue Activities in the Baltic Sea Region project, which will compile an overview of volunteer rescue activities in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Russia. The overview will then be used as a basis for recommendations for promoting volunteer activities in the region.

Accidents do not respect borders

“Promoting international rescue and civil defence cooperation is important, as various natural and man-made accidents do not respect national borders and thus require cooperation and joint preparedness planning between countries”, says Taina Hanhikoski, Senior Specialist, International Relations at the Finnish National Rescue Association.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in the field of international cooperation, for example in defining joint goals and duties for the states. The expertise of NGOs and volunteers could also be utilised more effectively”, says Kaisa Eskelinen, Researcher at the Finnish National Rescue Association.

“Earlier studies have also shown that rescue volunteers are motivated by international duties and cooperation”, Eskelinen says.

Meaningful participation in the work of the authorities and a feeling of being useful are particularly important for keeping volunteers motivated. Improving opportunities for participating in international cooperation can therefore increase the motivation of volunteers.

The features and quality of volunteer-authority cooperation will be charted with a survey

The Volunteer Rescue Activities in the Baltic Sea Region project examines not only the participation of volunteers in international cooperation, but also how volunteers are connected to the rescue and civil defence systems in each country. Information on the subject will also be gathered with a survey for local authorities and volunteers.

The survey will chart the prevalence and aspects of national and international cooperation between volunteers and authorities, the extent to which such cooperation is governed by agreements, the cooperation partners’ attitudes towards each other, the training offered to volunteers and its adequacy, and the ease or difficulty of recruiting volunteers.

“The survey also includes questions on the funding and insurance of volunteer activities, and asks how much authorities and volunteers cooperate with private citizens outside organisations. In addition, the survey will be supported with target group interviews on key themes”, says Researcher Eskelinen.

The results of the research project will be published in early 2021

The research project’s concluding seminar will be held in Helsinki in early 2021, and the final report will be published in Finnish and English. In addition, the recommendations will be translated into several languages.

The Finnish National Rescue Association’s partners in the project are Frederiksborg Brand Og Redning and the Danish Civil Protection League from Denmark, along with the Liepaja Municipal Police / Union of the Baltic Cities (Safe Cities Commission) from Latvia. The project is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and directed by the Ministry of the Interior.