Training Voluntary Platoon Leaders in Oulu, Finland

Last weekend, Finnish Red Cross (PP5) hosted a national oil spill platoon leader training for volunteers in Oulu, Finland.

A platoon consists of several groups, and a platoon leader is a volunteer who supervises group leaders in the hierarchy of volunteer actors.

The main aim of the training was to give the participants information and preparedness for working as a voluntary platoon leader in case of an oil spill ending up at the shore.

The participating group consisted of trainers from the local emergency service and WWF Finland and 11 volunteers from Voluntary Rescue Service, WWF Finland, The National Defence Training Association of Finland as well as staff members of StoraEnso company and Finnish Red Cross.

As a preparatory assignment, the trainees had compared the principles and values of their home organization with those of Voluntary Rescue Service. This task was important because the mismatch of working practices is a common cause of misunderstandings or other problems.

During the training, the tasks, responsibilities and rights of a platoon leader, the roles of different actors, and the organization of oil spill response, for instance, were covered. Also, communication and the ability to make circumspect decisions were essential topics. In addition, a quick training and an indoor leadership case exercise took place.

Of course, theoretical training alone is not sufficient. Practical table-top and outdoor exercises are needed for real preparedness and are being planned for the next year.

Heta Hyvärinen, the OIL SPILL Project Officer at Finnish Red Cross, opened and closed the event. Photo by Jari Huhtakallio.
The group leader exercise was performed in small groups. Photo by Jari Huhtakallio.

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