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Three simultaneous accidents test Helsinki emergency services – one reported fatality

Emergency services were stretched thin on Tuesday when three different accidents occurred at the same time in different parts of Helsinki. The city had to establish two extra first aid units and alert contractual volunteer fire departments. One person is reported dead and 18 injured.

Liikenneonnettomuus Mannerheimintiellä
Ambulances on the Mannerheimintie crash site. Image: Ronnie Holmberg / Yle

The Helsinki Emergency Services department was under unusual strain on Tuesday morning when three different high-risk accidents were called in within minutes of each other. The accidents occurred in different parts of the city.

Due to the rush, two new first aid units had to be established rapidly, and contractual volunteer fire brigades were also called in.

"All of our own resources were in use. For about an hour there wasn't a single truck available," fire chief Tommi Sivula says.

The first call came just after 10 am, when a tourist bus crashed into a tree on Mannerheimintie in the city centre; the driver had apparently suffered a medical fit and lost control of the vehicle.

The second alert came just minutes afterward, this time to the small island of Mustikkamaa, where a woman of around 30 was reported to have sunk underwater. She did not survive.

Extra units in 10 minutes

Again only a few minutes passed before an apartment fire in Puotila was called in. At the same time emergency services were seeing to other incidents, such as resuscitating two unrelated heart attack victims.

"Sometimes the situation arises where several high-risk tasks have to be handled at once, and doctor-level assistance is needed," Sivula says. "These emergencies occurred during office hours so we were able to mobilise quickly, as we have ambulance doctors on call in the office."

Sivula says that extra first aid units are utilised weekly, but it is unusual for more than one to be established at any one time. The two units were mobilised within 10 minutes on Tuesday.

Overall, 18 people were injured in the three accidents, two seriously.

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