There are tens of maritime rescue associations in Estonia
The central piece of a maritime rescue commando includes a life boat, a team that uses it, and the related communications and special equipment.
Maritime rescue prevention work is organised on sea days at coastal settlements and through national awareness campaigns. Voluntary maritime rescuers put a particular emphasis on wearing a life jacket when going to sea and not drinking alcohol when swimming. Some associations organise prevention events for children, where they introduce maritime rescue equipment and emphasise the importance of safe behaviour.
The role of voluntary maritime rescuers in rescue work has grown every year. Voluntary maritime rescue associations now cover most of the coastline in Estonia. The majority of call-outs are related to small boat owners in maritime distress. In order to simplify the operations of maritime rescue commandos, the Rescue Association has developed a maritime rescue information system SAR-EST, which is free of charge for all associations.
Equipment and buildings
A large part of the voluntary maritime rescue equipment has been acquired by volunteers themselves at their own expense. Several associations have carried out fundraising, written projects and cooperated with their good friends from Scandinavia in order to acquire water vehicles. Usually, the associations do not have premises that are especially prepared for maritime rescue. Dry coats, helmets, and other items of maritime rescue equipment are stored on the personal premises of a municipality, a supporter or a member on the basis of an agreement. The level of personal equipment of maritime rescuers has improved every year.
There are no activities concentrating on the next generations of voluntary maritime rescuers in Estonia. The number of maritime rescuers is increasing due to sailors, seamen and people interested in maritime rescuing, who complete the initial training of maritime rescuers and receive a maritime rescuer certificate. As maritime rescuers must be good swimmers, they help to continue and extend children’s swimming programmes.