Preparedness training builds and strengthens civil preparedness in society. Civil preparedness refers to the comprehensive protection of citizens against various safety and security threats. Civil preparedness involves different actors in society, and a multidisciplinary approach and cooperation between authorities also play a key role in preparing for new kinds of threats.
The statutory task of the Emergency Services Academy is to provide preparedness training for incidents under normal conditions and for unusual conditions. In accordance with the principles of comprehensive security, preparedness training promotes the undisturbed performance of duties of different operators, authorities, and the society as a whole in all security situations.
The main target group of preparedness training is the personnel of local, regional and central administration authorities. The preparedness training provided by the Emergency Services Academy includes basic-level courses aimed at the regional and local administration authorities of regions where preparedness exercises are organised in particular. We also answer for the training of civil defence officers and other specialised personnel.
Preparedness training supports the realisation of the preparedness obligation of public administration
The preparedness training provided by the Emergency Services Academy supports the realisation of the preparedness obligation laid down for public administration in the Emergency Powers Act. Under the Emergency Powers Act, the Government, central government administrative authorities, independent state-owned institutions governed by public law, other state authorities and unincorporated state enterprises, well-being services counties and joint authorities for health and well-being, municipalities, joint municipal authorities, and other groups of municipalities must also ensure that they can remain operational also in unusual conditions.
This is ensured by means of emergency plans, advance preparation for unusual conditions, and other measures. In addition to the Emergency Powers Act, the legal basis for the activities to be secured through preparedness is laid down in legislation specific to individual administrative branches.
Laws governing preparedness training:
- Act on the Emergency Services Academy (607/2006)
- Finland Rescue Act (379/2011) section 13, subsection 67
- Emergency Powers Act (1552/2011) section 12
Educational content of the preparedness training
The content of the training consists of topics and tasks related to preparedness and incident management.
- Legislative basis for preparedness
- Security Strategy for Society
- National and regional risk assessments
- Emergency planning
- Local risk and threat assessments
- Resource allocation (personnel, vehicles, machinery)
- Procurement of heavy equipment and materials
- Arrangements for incident management and crisis management in different sectors and administrative levels
- Crisis management, situational awareness, and command centre operations
- Incident and crisis communications
- Civil defence
- Practical training, such as operation during incidents and under unusual conditions
Preparedness trainings can vary from intensive one-day courses to emergency planning courses extending over several training periods. The training draws on the participants’ own professional competence, and diverse teaching methods (e.g. case exercises, group work and discussions) are utilised alongside lectures. Courses are implemented as both contact teaching and distance learning.
The key steering documents used in the preparation of preparedness training are the National risk assessment and the Security Strategy for Society published as a Government Resolution to standardise the national preparedness principles and guide the preparedness of administrative branches.
The Security Strategy for Society sets out the general principles of preparedness in Finnish society. Preparedness measures are implemented on the basis of the principle of comprehensive security, in which the vital functions of society will be ensured in cooperation between the authorities, business life, organisations, and citizens.
The aim of the Strategy is to protect the functioning of society, preserve the independence of the Finnish state and promote the safety and well-being of citizens.
Preparedness and civil defence
Preparedness refers to everything having to do with preparing for incidents and ensuring that the duties of various parties will be taken care of as effectively as possible in all security situations. Preparedness measures include emergency planning, other advance preparations and arrangements, maintaining operational readiness, personnel training, and operational training for incidents. In addition, preparedness includes material preparedness, i.e. preparedness for availability issues.
The purpose of preparedness is to prevent incidents and crisis situations and, on the other hand, to create the preconditions for managing incidents and their consequences.
An integral part of the overall preparedness of society is protecting the population during incidents and under unusual conditions. Methods of protecting the population include alerting the citizens, evacuations, other efficient rescue operations, structural protection (e.g. the construction of civil defence shelters) and maintenance of surveillance, alarm and command systems.
Preparedness for accidents or other incidents by the authorities alone is not enough; an important part of the protection of citizens is self-directed preparedness, for example, rescue measures initiated on the citizens’ own initiative, such as first extinguishing, first aid, and taking shelter indoors or at a civil defence shelter. Self-directed preparedness refers to measures taken by private individuals, businesses, and communities. Self-directed preparedness comprises preparedness arrangements made by housing units, offices, agencies, industrial companies, and other business operators.
Self-directed preparedness comprises preparedness arrangements made by housing units, offices, agencies, industrial companies, and other business operators as well as disaster supplies kits and other preparedness measures taken by individuals and households.
Civil defence refers to the performance of humanitarian tasks as further defined in Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions (SopS 82/1980), aimed at protecting the civilian population from the dangers of hostilities and accidents and helping them cope with their immediate effects and creating the necessary conditions for survival.
Under the current legislation, civil defence refers exclusively to measures taken during armed conflicts. The rescue services authorities are responsible for civil defence tasks within their fields of responsibility and for coordinating the activities and plans for unusual conditions related to rescue operations.
The task list for civil defence is extensive, and the tasks are carried out by several other authorities and actors in addition to the rescue services authorities. For example, wellbeing services counties, municipalities, joint municipal authorities and other groups of municipalities are responsible for preparing for situations referred to in Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions as part of their statutory preparedness obligations.
Those responsible for civil defence tasks are respected and protected and have the right to perform their civil defence duties, except in the event of an absolute military necessity. Under the Rescue Act, the Ministry of the Interior decides, if the situation so requires, which persons and materials are under protection (so-called civil defence organisation and its materials).
Educational planning and training development
Each year, the Emergency Services Academy requests ministries and Regional State Administrative Agencies to present their training needs within their geographical areas and administrative branches. The organisations are asked to prepare their proposals for the required training and exercises and a plan for the preparedness exercises for the subsequent years.
The organisations prepare their own proposals and compile the training proposals from their subordinate administrations. The Emergency Services Academy will plan the preparedness training programme for the subsequent year by mid-October. In practice, the training programme will be supplemented and specified during the year.
Public administration actors may submit complementary training proposals during the year as needed. If needed, the Emergency Services Academy can organise preparedness training curated to the client’s specific needs.