Read the report of a German volunteer at the Espoo Rantamaraton Finland

Helsinki, Finland, 14. October 2019

The team of Johanniter Finland and the volunteers from England and Germany (first row second from left to right: Ben Goldsworthy from St John Ambulance Manchester, Janina Grothe, Eike Hundhausen and Regine Blaschke from Johanniter Germany)

All pictures by Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V.

From 21 to 22 September, Johanniter Finland was on duty at the Rantamaraton in Espoo close to Helsinki. Three German and one English volunteer joined our Finnish member and  provided first aid to the runners and the spectators of the race. Read the report of Eike Hundhausen from Johanniter Germany:

 “When I boarded the plane from Cologne to Munich on Friday, 20th September 2019, I was curious about what was awaiting me the following days. Months ago I decided to register for this volunteer swap to learn more about medical service in Finland.

Pekka Rekola, the representative of Johanniter Finland, had created a volunteer  WhatsApp group to disclose details about the upcoming event and I learned there were four „Swappies“ in total: Janina Grothe from Lake Constance, Regine Blaschke from Stuttgart, Ben Goldsworthy from St.John‘s ambulance Manchester, UK and I from Bonn.

By the time Antti Elolähde, the local squad leader, picked us up at Helsinki airport, Janina and I had already exchanged our ideas about the trip during the flight from Munich to Helsinki. Soon we got to know Ben, who had arrived a few hours before and joined Antti while waiting for us. Antti took us to the beautiful home of Pekka and his wife Merja where we came together every evening for next day‘s itinerary and lots of delicious local food. Regine had also arrived and we enjoyed the time.

Ben stayed at Pekkas house whereas our accommodation turned out to be a romantic, lovingly decorated Finnish cottage in the woods which Janina meaningfully named ‘the girl`s cottage’. Unfortunately, there was no time left for either enjoying the sauna inside the cottage or exploring the outdoor jacuzzi as we returned late in the evenings and were picked up early next morning. If I had known before, I would have planned to stay a few days longer in this stunning landscape!

During the Espoo Marathon on Saturday, 21st September, we experienced great international teamwork. Not only when setting up tents and arranging the rescue site but also while offering medical service to the patients.

Our assistance ended early in the afternoon on Sunday, 22nd September so the whole team gathered again at the Johanniter station to clear up the equipment. On our way back to Pekka‘s house for a barbecue party, Merja and Antti showed us several sightseeing highlights along the way.

On Monday morning, 23rd September, after breakfast at Pekka‘s house, we left for Kruununhaka, downtown Helsinki to visit the House of Nobility. Inside the impressive building, called Ritarihuone in Finnish (House of Knights) we received a guided tour through the spectacular halls and learned more about a large number of coats of arms and heraldic collections owned by the Finnish nobility. Lunch at the famous café Ursula close to the seaside concluded our stay. Pekka, Merja and Antti did their utmost to make us feel comfortable.

At the airport, we had to say good-bye and leave our new friends behind. While Janina and I were heading for Munich, Ben flew back to Manchester. Regine was the lucky one. She continued her trip north to see more of this beautiful country. On the plane to Cologne, my final destination, I realised that volunteer swaps give an important contribution to international understanding. Thank you, Antti, Pekka and Merja for your kind hospitality throughout my stay. I hope we will meet again next year. I also would like to thank Johanniter International (JOIN) for giving me the opportunity to be a SWAPPI!”