Valmet’s Timo Heikkinen provides The Finnish Red Cross with much needed IT systems expertise in Haiti

Timo Heikkinen in Haiti. Photographer: Tiina Heikkinen / Finnish Red Cross

The Finnish Red Cross (FRC) sends more than two hundred aid workers around the world every year in response to humanitarian aid operations. Following a very bad earthquake in Haiti in mid-August, the local Red Cross of Haiti asked for help from the international Red Cross and Finland joined the relief work.

Timo Heikkinen, Senior System Specialist at Valmet, was one of the volunteer aid workers from Finland on assignment to Les Cayes, Haiti during October. Timo’s role was to build and maintain the Red Cross Field Hospital’s information technology (IT) systems.

Timo has been involved with the Red Cross for a couple of years already, after hearing that the Finnish Red Cross was looking for radio amateurs with IT qualifications for international relief work.

“I have been a radio amateur since high school and at Valmet, I have gained a lot of international experience in my field of automation systems both from the technical development and marketing point of view. Perhaps I am a bit of a world healer by nature, so I was very enthusiastic to take part in the Red Cross’ International Mobilization and Preparation for Action (IMPACT) training and be part of the Finnish Red Cross aid worker reserve.”

Aid workers are experts in their respective fields, united by a strong commitment to the principles and guidelines of the Red Cross.

When I arrived in Haiti, the field hospital sent from Finland was already partially running, and I joined the team to further set up the field hospital's IT infrastructure and take care of its maintenance.


"When I arrived in Haiti, the field hospital sent from Finland was already partially running, and I joined the team to further set up the field hospital's IT infrastructure and take care of its maintenance. For example, the hospital's X-ray equipment was not yet in use and its commissioning was my first task," declares Timo.

He was in Haiti for a total of five weeks made possible in part by Kimmo Mehtomaa, Valmet’s Service Director for Northern Finland.

“Timo has our full support. A little rescheduling for his day-to-day work is worth all the help he has brought to this Red Cross effort.”

Timo has joined Red Cross relief workers in the hospital project not only from Finland, but also from Canada, Germany, and Belgium. There are about 35 hospital delegates involved in the project plus the technical assistance personnel.

"I see that information management will be at the heart of the future work of the Red Cross, so they have a need for people with expertise in data management and data mining and I am honored to be allowed to take part,” concludes Timo.

Valmet has also made a donation to the Finnish Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund. Through the Disaster Relief Fund, the Red Cross helps the victims of natural disasters and conflicts around the world by delivering supplies, such as tents, blankets, clean drinking water, or an entire field hospital to the disaster areas.