Finland’s Emergency Response Centre Agency has announced its membership of TCCA, the representative organisation that brings together the global critical communications ecosystem.
The Agency manages six Emergency Response Centres (ERCs) providing a unique critical service throughout Finland. ERCs receive calls to the emergency 112 number that fall within the scope of the rescue, police, social and health services, evaluate the requirements and forward the information to the appropriate authorities or partners.
No other country has a system like this Finnish model, where the same information system is used to manage a single number for all emergency calls, process the data, supplement with additional information if necessary and alert all required units simultaneously.
The ERC Agency receives many international visitors looking to learn from the ERC operations, and has actively assisted several countries including Australia, Estonia, Georgia and Sweden with their emergency response system reforms at both a strategic and practical level.
“In an increasingly challenging world it is essential to have access to the latest news and best practices in terms of new technologies,” said Dan Berlin, ERC Agency Emergency Communications Specialist. “We are pleased to now be part of TCCA’s membership and look forward to sharing our operational model more widely with an international audience and learning from others in this most critical of areas.”
“The Emergency Response Centre Agency sits at the heart of critical response services for Finland – not as visible to the public as the first responders out in the field but no less crucial. Their innovation and operational model have won admiration from around the world, and we are very proud that they will be sharing their expertise with TCCA’s ecosystem to the benefit of societies worldwide,” said TCCA Chief Executive Tony Gray.
Finland’s ERCs are the first authority link in the chain of assistance and safety provision during an emergency. An ERC can alert all relevant authorities simultaneously via VIRVE, the joint authorities’ nationwide critical communications network.
VIRVE helps authorities and other safety and security operators to communicate efficiently and securely, cooperate across organisational boundaries and safeguard Finnish citizens and visitors to the country.
Finland has only one free emergency number, 112, for the most urgent calls, which are received by trained ERC operators in six ERCs. These are the first authority link in the chain of assistance and safety provision. An ERC can alert all the necessary authorities simultaneously. This is enabled by the joint authorities’ telecommunications network, VIRVE.
Emergency calls are handled based on an operational model whereby the ERC operator guides the caller by means of risk assessment questions and instructions. At the beginning of the call, this generates information that helps the ERC operator make a quick and correct risk assessment and provide the caller with the appropriate assistance.
All six ERCs in mainland Finland use the ERICA ERC information system. The networked operating model enables the nationwide balancing of congestion during regional peaks. This means that emergency calls may be routed to other ERCs too if the ERC closest to the caller is overloaded or unable to answer for some other reason, such as due to a storm. This way citizens will reach the first link in the help chain from the authorities as soon as possible.