17/100: Forest fire and a man overboard

I decided to host client events for my friends throughout the year as practice, or more like as a reward for my success in school. This first night turned out to be pretty damn exciting!

The day group had already left and Sonja and I were alone at the Kiviönniemi lean-to. We kept joking about how the sun sets at six o-clock and we’ll have hours of just sitting around and we didn’t even have any alcohol! The joke is that we don’t really partake.

It was going to be a long night because Sonja is scared of the dark and freezing to death. These were precisely the kinds of things we were there to overcome.

We sat on the rock with cups of hot chocolate, staring at the waves and the rising fog. Then we saw four people walking to the lean-to. At first we didn’t get a good look at who they were and thought that maybe our friends had decided to surprise us. But then we realized they were strangers. Strangers with paint cans in each hand.

Being curious as we are, we went to say hello and learned that there was going to be an after dark water rescue drill tonight. They were volunteer firefighters from Korpilahti. The drill would entail a rogue campfire and a person lost in the water. Sonja and I looked at each other with glee!

I can’t believe it! On this particular night this stuff is going down! Fire!

The rogue fire was simulated by placing logs in the paint cans all over the beach and a a bigger campfire was set on the rocks. I went to see how they were going to do the whole missing person thing and stumbled upon a dummy in the dark. Needless to say, I yelped.


After all the preparations they sat down by the fire and roasted some sausages with us. Heikki had left the camera with me and I kept firing away, so the volunteers asked me if I could take a few for them as well. For science and education! I hesitated because I’m not too confident with my photograph skills but I decided to try at least!

We were also supposed to play along if they ended up asking us about the missing “Kimmo”. We didn’t know which direction he had gone to but we had seen him carrying scuba gear.

The drill started. A large boat approached the shore, shooting bright lights into the woods. Rescuers jumped out, making a headcount and making sure we had the fire under control. They started putting it out as soon as they found out that one of us was missing and another boat began searching for him. One person started combing the area among the reeds. It took awhile for them to find Kimmo but eventually they did and he was taken away in a wheelbarrow. I’m not sure what his condition was for such means of transportation to be necessary.

It gets dark and it gets dark fast in the Fall. The weather can be unpredictable and an accident in black waters can be fatal.

Water rescuers, volunteer firefighters and other authorities arrange these kinds of rescue drills for exactly this reason. It’s vital to know how to communicate, how to look for people and how to distribute assignments in the dark, cold outdoors. The dummy they used had bright orange ocean rescue overalls with reflectors and they still had trouble locating him. That’s how dark it is. Imagine how difficult it will be to locate an actual person.

A forest fire is easy enough to spot but finding a good place to get to shore can be difficult.

This night outdoors turned out to be pretty damn exciting! Sonja kept thanking me for such a memorable performance. At least she can’t say it was boring!


If you’re interested in this sort of volunteer work, I urge you to contact the appropriate associations directly! There’s always need for more!

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