Emergency Response Centre

The Emergency Response Centre takes emergency calls and sends assistance to the scene as soon as possible.

The operator at the Emergency Response Centre assesses the level of urgency during the phon​e call based on the information they are given, and sends appropriate assistance to the scene, provided it is deemed necessary. The operator does not have a general obligation to send an ambulance whenever it is requested, and the decision to send assistance is always made based on risk assessment.

Prehospital care priority levels

The calls for prehospital care at the Emergency Response Services are divided into four levels of priority, based on risk assessment:

Category A: high-risk illnesses and injuries; based on initial information about the situation, it is likely that the patient’s vital functions are at immediate risk.

Category B: a probable high-risk emergency; there is no certain knowledge about the degree of risk to the patient’s vital functions.

Category C: the patient’s vital functions are stable, or the risk to them is small, but the situation requires a rapid assessment by the emergency services.

Category D: the patient is stable, and there is no risk to the vital functions, but the situation requires assessment by the emergency services.

The first three categories, A–C, are considered urgent calls, with A and B, classified as emergencies and C as other urgent call. Category D calls are non-urgent calls.

According to the risk assessment recommendations, the target is to reach category A and B patients as quickly as possible, and these calls are treated as emergency calls. According to the recommendations, the target time of reaching a category C patient is 30 minutes, and category D patients two hours; as these services are not treated as emergency calls.

Cooperation between authorities

The emergency service authorities that can be called through the Emergency Response Centre include the Rescue Department, the police, health-care services (ambulance), social services (emergency social services) and many other authorities such as the Border Guard (maritime rescue), Defence Forces, and volunteer organisations.

It is the duty of rescue and first response authorities to save lives and prevent and limit danger and damage to people and property. When several different services (e.g. the police and health services) collaborate with the Rescue Department, the Rescue Department takes general command in the situation.

The task of the police in accidents is to isolate the scene, redirect traffic and maintain order and safety at the scene and investigate the accident.

Aviation accidents and incidents typically involve several authorities, depending on the nature of the incident. Whenever an aviation accident or incident occurs, aviation authorities or the Safety Investigation Authority carry out a safety investigation with the aim of preventing further accidents and near-misses.

Maritime rescue authorities are responsible for emergency and rescue operations in the water areas. Maritime rescue is the duty of the Border Guard in collaboration with authorities and volunteers operating in the sea and coastal areas. Maritime rescue operations are limited to saving and securing lives. Property rescue is not its responsibility.

Did you know that the maritime rescue emergency number is 0294 1000, and you can call it in an emergency while at sea? If you cannot remember the maritime rescue emergency number, you can always call 112.

VIRVE-network and authorities communication

To work efficiently, emergency and first response authorities depend on their own secure radio network. In exceptional circumstances, when large numbers of people are trying to contact each other, and the commercial networks are extremely busy, a separate network for the authorities is essential. VIRVE, the Finnish nationwide public safety radio network, was introduced in 2002. Its main purpose is to provide the Finnish authorities, who are responsible for public safety and security, with a modern integrated radio network that allows for group communications, encryption and high-level data security.

Thanks to the public safety network, authorities can work together more effectively. The decision on who has access to VIRVE is made by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The users include the police, rescue departments, social and health services, Border Guard, Emergency Response Centre, Customs and the Finnish Defence Forces.

Follow Mary through emergency medical service

Sally stays on the phone with the Emergency Response Centre operator, who makes a risk assessment based on the information Sally has given. The operator uses the VIRVE network to send an ambulance to the scene as a category B call.

The operator continues talking to Sally even after the ambulance was sent to the scene. The operator gives Sally further instructions. Sally tells the operator she is protecting Maija’s head with her hands, which is the right thing to do during an epileptic seizure. The operator confirms that assistance is on its way and asks Sally to have someone ready at the main entrance of the shopping centre to show the paramedics the way to Mary…

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Updated  1.5.2021