In the northern border regions, the authorities cooperate on a daily basis. Emergency calls are forwarded both ways if the calls are connected on the wrong side of the border.
Sauna was on fire on the Swedish side, and the emergency call made from the scene of the fire was directed to the emergency center on the Finnish side. Dagens Nyheter told on Monday about the sauna fire that happened a few years ago in the municipality of Övertorneå in Northern Sweden. When a call made near the Finnish border was diverted to Finland, the emergency center operator contacted his colleagues on the Swedish side to get help to the fire scene in the village of Luppio.
The case is not rare, says the head of the operational department of the Finnish Emergency Response Agency Marko Nieminen.
“These are just everyday. For the people of the Oulu emergency center, these are particularly familiar things from a long time ago.”
Nieminen according to Tornionjokilaakso in particular, there are settlements on both sides of the border. In this case, calls may be routed through the neighboring country’s base station to an emergency center outside your own country. Finland, Sweden and Norway have agreed on procedures for how to act in these situations.
“Cooperation has been done for as long as there have been mobile phones. For us, the emergency center in Oulu and the SOS Alarm center in Lulea on the Swedish side play a central role, they cooperate all the time.”
SOS Alarm handles calls made to the emergency number on the Swedish side.
According to Nieminen, it is not necessary to try to technically avoid connecting to the network of a neighboring country.
“If there are bad connections in the north, and you’re in a closed area, the most important thing is that the emergency call gets through to a center.”
An emergency call when diverting from another country to the Finnish side, it is located and forwarded to the emergency center authority in Sweden or Norway in such a way as to ensure that the call is connected.
“If it happens that the call is interrupted, we have the basic information and can make a return call from Sweden or Norway.”
The language of cooperation is mainly English, but a lot of Swedish is also used with Swedes.
Nieminen says that cooperation with Sweden is done daily and with Norway weekly. In addition to emergency calls directed to Finland from another country, the cooperation can be assisting with tasks related to another country from Finland, or foreign units can have tasks on the Finnish side. Cooperation is based on international agreements.
Cooperation in emergency situations
In 2022, the Oulu emergency center received 280 calls from Swedish emergency centers and 781 from Norway.
One task can cause several calls with additional inquiries.
In 2022, there were a total of 249 contacts from the emergency centers of other countries, where the emergency report was transferred to the emergency center in Finland for processing.
Last year, 1,182 notifications related to United Emergency Calls were transferred from other countries to Finland. This includes transfers to Åland’s emergency center.
Language barrier according to Nieminen, there has not been a problem with calls directed to Finnish emergency centers. The emergency center has an interpretation service, through which, if necessary, you can get help handling emergency calls in a foreign language. Over the years, interpretation has been done for about 30 different languages.
If Finnish emergency centers receive an emergency notification in Swedish, the call can be transferred to an emergency center operator who can speak Swedish for processing from any emergency center.
What if the Finn’s emergency call is answered across the border, and the caller’s language skills are not sufficient? Head of the Oulu emergency center Jukka Alenius says by email that the Luluja emergency center has previously had individuals who can speak Finnish, but there is no exact information about the current situation. In some individual tasks, a call in Finnish has been connected from Sweden or Norway to the Oulu emergency center, where assistance has been provided as far as possible.
to Norway help from Finland is often given for rescue operations, and in return Norway gives Finland help with first aid tasks, for example with a medical helicopter. In Tornionjokilaakso, Swedish and Finnish cooperation is very close.
“Some municipalities may have common rescue equipment along the river. From the station, you can go to the Finnish or Swedish side, there is only a bridge between them.”
There is no cooperation with Russia apart from monthly trials. They test that the connection between the emergency centers works.
Finland emergency centers are now also notified via the collision systems of new cars. Last year, 3,320 notifications were received in Finland through the Ecall emergency call system. In the event of an accident, the system initiates an emergency call from the car to the emergency center and at the same time sends information about the location of the accident car.
“It is used as a normal emergency notification if someone in the car is able to speak. If not, then an alert will be sent according to the model agreed with the rescue service. The automatic alarms of smart devices are increasing all the time,” says Nieminen.
Emergency call it is also possible to activate from the SOS button in the car, which causes unnecessary alarms, for example when children press on the alarm.
“From there, the alarm can be immediately canceled that this is an accident.”
In addition to the official Ecall system, vehicle manufacturers have similar systems of their own. When these collision systems are activated, the call can be connected to the car manufacturer’s own control room, such as the one in Stuttgart, Germany, for example. In the event of an accident, the control center contacts the international contact point number of the Finnish Emergency Response Center, which is answered in the control center. From there, the call is connected to the relevant emergency center for processing, if necessary.
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