Technological optimisation of operational centres and rescue services (emergency call system)

Project completed

In Estonia, with its sparse population and numerous forests, the rapid response of rescue forces is crucial in saving lives in an emergency. By financing two coordinated projects with CHF 3.3 million, Switzerland is helping to optimise the technology of operational centres and rescue services in Estonia.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Improving social security
Various social services
01.03.2010 - 30.06.2015
CHF  2’013’994

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.


The Government of Estonia has to ensure assistance to its citizens and visitors in case of any kind of extraordinary situation. Service is provided via the Estonian Emergency Response Centre (ERC), which is a governmental body working under auspices of the Ministry of Interior and which is linked to emergency ambulances, fire stations, police, rescue centres and border guards. Due to several obstacles, currently the reaction time of ERC and all the emergency teams is – in comparison to more advanced EU countries – long and difficult to control: The determination of the location of persons needing emergency help is time-consuming, location and status determination of emergency vehicles is only partially possible, and all relevant information for the emergency team can be delivered only verbally, using radio.


The general aim of the project is to shorten the time taken from answering the emergency call to the arrival of the emergency team ("call-response time") and thus to decrease the number of people dying in house fires, to increase successful resuscitation attempts and to reduce direct financial damage after fires. To achieve this goal, a new Estonian Emergency Management System will be established, which improves and sustainably accelerates the processing of emergency cases.

Target groups

Population of Estonia

Visitors / tourists to Estonia



The project finances the development of software (GIS-112 and M-GIS-112) for an improved electronic map of Estonia, for locating callers, for positioning and tracking of emergency vehicles and for enhanced logistics tools. Furthermore, emergency vehicles will be provided with hardware (mobile computers) to use the software developed. Finally, training courses on the use of the new software and hardware will be conducted.


Achieved results:  

  • Healthy life expectancy years for men have increased from 49.7 reported in 2007 to 53.1 (EU average is 61.3)
    Healthy life expectancy years for women have increased from 54.9 reported in 2007 to 57.2 (EU average is 61.9)
  • All emergency brigades equipped with handheld radios, all regular and reserve vehicles equipped with auto radios, all ambulances equipped with base radios and all active care hospitals equipped with hospital emergency unit radios
  • Training of personnel of the Emergency Response Centre and of emergency teams completed

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign state institution
  • National State Institute North

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’013’994 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’987’172
Project phases

Phase 1 01.03.2010 - 30.06.2015   (Completed)

Despite considerable efforts by the Estonian government to reduce the number of fatal accidents, in terms of the population these happen almost three times as often as the average for the EU and in Switzerland. The reasons for this include problems in locating accidents and rescue vehicles in sparsely populated areas with difficult terrain, a lack of coordination between rescue forces and hospitals, and the use of different, incompatible radio systems and outdated maps.

New technology for emergency vehicles and control centres

To rectify these deficiencies, Estonia launched a national strategy midway through the last decade which included integrating and networking all rescue services such as ambulances, fire brigade, police and border patrols, as well as introducing a uniform national radio network and coordinated use of the latest Internet technologies.

Switzerland has been financing two sub-areas of this ambitious project since 2010. In one, 120 ambulances and 55 medical centres are being equipped with modern radio systems and mobile software meeting the national standard. In the other, the hard- and software at the national Emergency Response Centre are being completely overhauled, an interactive, constantly updated electronic map is being developed and training courses are being held on the use of the new equipment. The integration of the police, fire brigade and other emergency services is being carried out in parallel as further sub-projects financed by the Estonian government.

These coordinated measures enable employees at the national Emergency Response Centre in Tallinn and in the four branches throughout the country to accurately locate incoming calls and rescue forces in the vicinity, give fast, precise instructions by radio, and record these electronically. T his enables fire brigade rescue workers to see at any time when an ambulance or the police are due to arrive at the scene of an accident, for example. Furthermore, once the paramedics have performed first aid at the scene of the accident, they can create electronic patient cards containing vital information on the patient's condition in the ambulance and transmit this electronically to the hospital before they arrive.

Time savings can be life-saving

This process greatly reduces the time between receipt of an emergency call and the arrival of rescue services on the scene, and to noticeably improves the quality of the Estonian rescue and care services. Both sub-projects promote measures in the area of eHealth, which is also gaining in significance in Switzerland. The modernisation of the emergency call and ambulance systems financed by the Swiss contribution will thus enable rescue services to be deployed in a coordinated and much more efficient manner in the future. This Swiss-financed modernisation is due to be completed in 2013, with digitisation of the entire Estonian emergency system to be concluded one year later.


The main aim of the projects of the Estonian Emergency Response Centre and the Health Board is to reduce the response time between the receipt of emergency calls (phone no. 112) and the time at which emergency services reach the scene, especially in rural areas, in order to secure a high-quality and evidence-based ambulance service throughout the country.

For this purpose, the Emergency Response Centre has obtained a digital operational map, which includes the necessary equipment for allocated rescue vehicles and the locations of ambulances and stations. The country’s ambulance services and emergency care hospitals will be provided with the necessary radio communication equipment. Ambulance stations will be equipped with portable computerised wireless workstations linked to a central e-health database, and an electronic case history system for paper-free patient data management is to be developed.

Janek Laev,
Director of the Emergency Response Centre