The Rescue Board has organized 22 Estonian courses for its staff in Ida-Viru County over the past eight years, but still had to dismiss 12 of its employees due to a lack of proficiency. The board rejected claims that the dismissal was caused by a teacher complaining about course attendance.
The 12 employees dismissed were given the opportunity by the Rescue Board to attend Estonian lessons. These lessons apparently did not produce the desired result. Chief of the board's Eastern Rescue Centre, Ailar Holzmann, was quoted by spokespeople on Thursday saying that the reduction in staff won't affect operations in the area.
"Requirements apply at the Rescue Board as to the minimum numbers of rescuers, crew leaders and squad leaders in an on-duty shift. If the numbers are smaller than that, a rescue worker will be brought in from another base or off-duty personnel called to work," Holzmann said.
He added that the Rescue Board doesn't dismiss employees lightly.
"We are one team, and we take care of each other. Command of the Estonian language is essential for a rescue professional, as it enables them to enrol with the Rescue College, attend in-service training and courses, work together with cooperation partners and those in distress when a rescue situation is being resolved, conduct prevention, listen to and understand in-service regulations, announcements of in-service communications, and much more," Holzmann said.
"The dismissal of rescue workers over language requirements demonstrates that the opportunities made available to learn the language have not brought the the desired result," Holzmann said, adding that the ability to speak the language can be crucial saving a person's life.
The Rescue Board rejected media reports as untrue that the dismissal followed a complaint by a teacher of Estonian concerning one rescue worker attending the course.
Over the past eight years the Rescue Board has arranged for 22 Estonian courses in the predominantly Russian-speaking cities of Narva, Sillamäe, and Jõhvi. Altogether 326 rescue professionals have so far attended the courses. The board has spent €70,583 on language instruction during that period.
The board will continue to offer courses to its employees with the aim for employees to get a B1 level certificate.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR