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Providing rescue services in remote areas of Estonia

Tarmo Puolokainen (School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia) (Centre for Applied Social Sciences, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)
Annika Jaansoo (Department of Public Administration, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Margo Klaos (Institute of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 9 March 2018

Issue publication date: 24 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effect of delivering rescue services in remote areas, where there is little or no natural incentive to provide this service, taking the case of Estonia as an example.


The case study is based on secondary data obtained via analysis of legal acts, rescripts and strategic documents, as well as (applied) studies. In addition, the transcripts of ten half-structured interviews were analyzed, which were conducted with rescue services experts in December 2012. The benefits and risks pointed out in the literature are discussed against an example of providing rescue services in the remote areas of Estonia.


Outsourcing rescue services has led to cost effectiveness and thereby provides a better-quality service in densely populated areas. The main risks are yet to emerge. It is highly probable that the Estonian Rescue Board has to deal with the issues regarding the lack of control over service, which in turn is caused by the lack of skills and competence to manage the relationships and to design appropriate service-level agreements.

Research limitations/implications

Since the voluntary rescue service provision is rapidly evolving, there have not yet been many studies undertaken to describe the positive and negative aspects of its development. Therefore, the collected data have gaps and are open for discussion.

Practical implications

The introduction of an extensive network of voluntary fire and rescue service brigades is a paradigm shift in Estonia, where the rescue services have so far been provided publicly. Thus, it gives a guidance to other practitioners, on which aspects they should focus on, while planning a change in service provision/provider.


The novelty of this paper is to systematically analyze the benefits and risks occurred on a shift from public provision of rescue services to providing it in an extensive co-operation with voluntary rescuers.



Puolokainen, T., Jaansoo, A. and Klaos, M. (2018), "Providing rescue services in remote areas of Estonia", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 164-178.



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