Sa, 2.12.2023

Estonian Rescue Board agrees to participate in alternative service

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Photo: Ants Liigus / Pärnu Postimees

The Estonian Defense Ministry and Rescue Board discussed the possibility of doing alternative service in the rescue system and the latter agreed to accept persons in alternative service on the condition that conscripts who for some reason are unable to serve in the defense forces meet certain requirements and undergo training, the daily Postimees reports.

Alternative service is obligatory for young men who refuse to do military service for religious or ethical reasons. Under law it can be performed in a social or rescue institution. "In practice alternative service has not been performed in rescue institutions including the Rescue Board until now," spokesperson for the Defense Resources Board Marke Teppor said. "The Rescue Board held previously the opinion that conscripts cannot be used in rescue work."

Representatives of the Defense and Interior ministries, Defense Resources Board and Rescue Board met at the beginning of January to discuss organization of alternative service in rescue units, Postimees said.

"An essential part of doing alternative service in the Rescue Board is for the person in alternative service to know and understand the content of rescue work and be ready to face the situations that may occur in it," director general of the Rescue Board Kalev Timberg said in his reply to the Defense Ministry. A rescuer has to be prepared for dealing with psychologically traumatic situations, he added.

The Rescue Board is ready to provide the necessary training in the amount of 160 hours and a person entering alternative service has to undergo it at the start of service at the Rescue Board school, Timberg said.

"The proposals of the Rescue Board need to be analyzed and it is too soon to say at the moment when it will become possible to perform alternative service in the Rescue Board," Teppor said. She underlined that the law stipulates only social and rescue institutions as alternative service places and adding other spheres to the list is not being considered.