Photo: IslandHopper X, Pexels.

Psychological determinants of performance in rescue services are being researched at Xamk!


The theme of performance has been an area of interest in rescue services for quite some time.

In South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences’ RDI-project RescTRUST:  Psychological determinants of performance in the rescue service amid societal and work-related changes, the psychological determinants of performance in the rescue services are being studied in a changing operational environment, as well as the effects of impaired psychological performance and coping with challenging changes in rescue services work for both communities and personnel.

Furthermore, the project aims to create web-based training courses that provide concrete information and tools to support and ensure the psychological determinants of performance are aligned with the needs of the rescue services while also being accessible and usable by various stakeholders in the future. The Fire Protection Fund funds this two-year project.

In a recent publication by the Finnish Ministry of the Interior (2022), the definition of performance has been condensed as the ability to achieve organisational goals and carry out tasks either independently or in collaboration with others. Psychological determinants of performance refer to the basic capacity to successfully perform tasks, including cognitive, emotional, motivational, self-regulatory, executive function, personality, and interpersonal dimensions. The RescTRUST project examines psychological determinants of performance at both the individual and work community levels.

The operational environment of Finnish rescue services has undergone and continues to undergo constant changes. Factors such as climate change and extreme weather conditions, including droughts, forest fires, floods, social inequality, ageing population, urbanisation, technological advancements, and changes in the security environment all affect the work carried out in rescue services.

Different kinds of tragedies have impacted multiple work communities, including those within the rescue services. The RescTRUST project investigates how the rescue services’ work communities cope with tragedies and how they can regain a sense of safety in their aftermath. Considering possible future changes and challenges, coping with different work community tragedies is crucial for maintaining and developing psychological determinants of the performance of both the work community and individuals. Information produced by the research is used directly during the project to produce web-based training to rescue services’ work communities on handling such situations.

The RescTRUST project also examines moral stress and injury. As the hierarchical structure of rescue services can expose personnel to different kinds of moral conflicts, workers can face various risks of moral stress or injury. This study includes participants from the voluntary fire brigade. Due to the uniqueness of the rescue services’ environment, research results that apply to other professions cannot be generalised directly to the rescue services.

However, a better understanding of this phenomenon is necessary to support the psychological determinants of performance. These topics are also taken into account when developing the training content within the project.

All the research in the project is unique to the context of the rescue services. Most of the project’s research will be offered for publication in international scientific journals. The web-based training produced in the project is novel and considers the rescue services’ unique needs, operational environment, and accessibility requirements.

Overall, the project’s benefits can be seen at both individual and work community levels as well as societal level, as the project includes both dimensions in terms of research and training.

RescTRUST: Psychological determinants of performance in the rescue service amid societal and work-related changes (1.5.2023–30.4.2025) is an RDI project conducted at Xamk and funded by The Fire Protection Fund.


Publications of the Ministry of the Interior (2022:5). Project Performance and planning principles of rescue services and civil defence – Summary Report. (Pelastustoimen ja siviilivalmiuden suorituskyky ja suunnitteluperusteet -hanke: Yhteenvetoraportti.) Available:

Writers Hilla Nordquist and Sanna Korpela

Nordquist works as a principal lecturer at Xamk and as a scientific expert in the RescTRUST project, and Sanna Korpela works as a project manager of the RescTRUST project.