Project: Sustainable co-operation of rescue actors in the Swedish countryside

The aim of this project is to explore, develop and evaluate new strategies in the organization of rescue actors through co-operation of resources. The goal is to make it possible to save more lives and more property in rural Sweden.

Project information

Project manager
Bengt Nilsson
Other project members
- Bengt Nilsson, Anders Svensson, Frida Björcman, Åsa Blom, Bengt Fridlund, Jimmy Johansson and Erik Wångmar, Linnaeus University
- Emelie Lantz and Marcus Runefors, LTH Faculty of Engineering, Sweden
- Carina Elmqvist, Region Kronoberg, Sweden
- Magnus Kärvhag, Räddningstjänsten Västra Blekinge ("Rescue Service of Western Blekinge"), Sweden
- Carl Håkansson, Räddningstjänsten Ljungby ("Rescue Service of Ljungby"), Sweden
- Per Wikberg and Göran Nilsson, Förbundet Sveriges frivilliga brandkårer ("The Association of Swedish Volunteer Fire Brigades"), Sweden
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University; LTH Faculty of Engineering, Lund; Region Kronoberg; Räddningstjänsten Västra Blekinge ("Rescue Service of Western Blekinge"); Räddningstjänsten Ljungby ("Rescue Service of Ljungby"); Per Wikberg and Göran Nilsson, Förbundet Sveriges frivilliga brandkårer ("The Association of Swedish Volunteer Fire Brigades"); all Sweden
The Kamprad Family Foundation
1 July 2020–31 Dec 2023
- Forestry and wood technology (Department of Forestry and Wood Technology, Faculty of Technology)
- Caring Sciences (Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
- Fire Safety Engineering (Department of Fire Safety Engineering, LTH Faculty of Engineering)

Anders and Bengt in front of a rescue car
Anders Svensson, associate professor of caring sciences, and Bengt Nilsson, associate professor of forestry and wood technology

More about the project

We live in a time when security is high on the agenda, but deciding which issues are to be perceived as important and which conditions exist differ greatly between cities and rural areas. In the event of an acute illness or when an accident occurs, we must, according to the law, be able to expect an equivalent and effective rescue operation regardless of where we live.

This is something that is difficult to fulfill in practice when the distances are long. Those who live in rural areas must often wait a long time for rescue services or an ambulance to arrive from larger towns and this can seem like an endless amount of time for those affected!

To handle large and small crisis situations in the countryside, we need to find better means of carrying out the correct action, at the correct time and with the correct type of resources. It is therefore high time we took advantage of the local commitment to develop solutions together with the people of the local area where different rescue actors create the conditions to save lives and property in the Swedish countryside.

Closest is first

It is not difficult to understand that the nearest resource will arrive first, nor is it difficult to understand that all fires are small in the beginning. The early arrival of the rescue services in the event of an injury, accident or acute illness is important to interrupt a negative trend.

Closeness to a rescue actor thus directly becomes life-determining, not least when people suffer from acute life-threatening conditions. This is often made more difficult by a narrow view of agreed organizational boundaries, where we risk completely missing those situations where the rescue services can actually make a difference.

Therefore, it is necessary to study how co-operation affects the possibility of reaching out with help faster. In this case, a rescue actor refers to the rescue services, the ambulance, or another actor who is alerted with the task to interrupt the negative trend in the event of an accident or, if necessary, perform life-saving treatment on the scene.

Part-time employees and volunteers

For a long time, Sweden has had an organization of rescue services which in many places is based on paid part-time firefighters with personnel who are on standby in addition to their main duties. As a complement in even smaller villages, there are also rescue services where the firefighters are made up of volunteers who are not on standby but are paid for efficient working hours during rescue operations.

However, difficulties in recruiting and retaining part-time firefighters are described as the biggest challenge for the Swedish rescue services. Thus, more knowledge is needed about the firefighters and their main employer's perspective on how the rescue service can develop.

Storms and forest fires

In a nation where the countryside consists of large areas of forest land, recent years have shown that severe climate-related challenges have increased in the form of intense storms and forest fires. The summer of 2018 offered extreme drought with large forest fires occurring over the entire country and with the rescue services very strained because of a lack of both materials and personnel.

Much indicates that in the future even higher demands will be made on individual forest owners and the forest industry to be able to prevent forest fires, but also to contribute to fight the fire. Therefore, a need exists to describe how forest owners and forestry companies can coordinate preventively to assist the rescue services. Here, co-operation with organized volunteers who can counteract these threats is an opportunity to stop forest fires before they grow large but also to gather strength to deal with larger fires.

Coordinating volunteers

If there is development work for increased co-operation to handle major critical situations, it would be unwise not to also take advantage of experience and contact networks that have been built up to strengthen crisis preparedness in rural areas to also handle accidents or cases of illness in everyday life.

One way to proceed is to coordinate volunteers through voluntary first responders who can be dispatched to be of assistance to the rescue service and ambulances in their home area. By developing co-operation between different rescue actors, conditions are created to arrive faster with help and also to handle larger incidents.

This project is part of the research in the research group Centre of Interprofessional Collaboration within Emergency care (CICE).