We’re all an accident away from needing help – and anyone could become a hero. Sometimes it can be the simplest of skills, such as how to behave in the case of fire and how to call emergency services in times of trouble.
In order to raise future lifesavers, firefighter and emergency medical technician Jussi Rautio began visiting numerous schools teaching children about safety. He couldn’t help but wonder if an hour or two a year is enough to maintain the knowledge.
“Jussi figured a game would be a great way to boost the lessons and keep the memories fresh,” says Markus Syrjänen, CEO of SyraWise.
The company’s product, Rescuebusters, turns safety education into a game. Developed by Finnish Nopia, Rescuebusters lets players practise all sorts of situations that might occur at home or in public. What to do when someone is choking or cooking oil catches fire when you’re making doughnuts?
“If you think of a lot of popular games, they are about fighting, killing or smashing cars,” Syrjänen notes. “We wanted to make something that does the opposite and teaches how to save lives.”
Helping to help
SyraWise was born out of Rautio’s idea and Syrjänen’s business intelligence. Syrjänen is in charge of operations and negotiations, whilst Rautio is the chairman of the board as well as responsible for the game’s content together with partners – and continues to fight for lives in his day job.
A lot of officials and institutions that work with education and safety have jumped on board to spread the game’s message. SyraWise collaborates with a few schools and teachers in Helsinki, who test Rescuebusters and its new features and provide insightful feedback.
Syrjänen points out that it’s to everyone’s benefit that children grow up with both the knowledge and courage to help others.
“If you only vaguely remember things from individual lessons in school, you might not be as prone to start acting if you see, for example, a stranger faint on the street. The game lowers the threshold to go help before it’s too late, no matter how big or small the incident is.”
A lot of children already spend plenty of time playing games, which can worry some parents – particularly those who don’t fully understand what the game entails. In Rescuebusters’ case, this is not an issue.
“It’s difficult to imagine any parent telling their child to stop playing Rescuebusters,” Syrjänen points out.
Not only for profit
Rescuebusters has been of interest abroad, too. According to Syrjänen, inquiries have flown in from Germany, China and Dubai.
The game’s strength lies in its neverending potential for expansion. It’s based on a ‘campus’, which enables covering more and more topics simply by adding new areas.
On top of Rescuebusters, SyraWise is developing a webtool that can be used either independently or in conjunction with the game. It will comprise learning materials, such as ebooks, and, for example, a teacher can add all students’ Rescuebusters accounts onto the system and track their playing and points.
Companies can adjust the tool to their specific needs, too. Syrjänen explains that an example could be a construction company teaching its employees about company policies and safety instructions.
“The tool can be adapted to more grown-up content or branded to include a company’s own characters or mascots.”
Rescuebusters is now available in Europe, Japan and South Korea. The webtool will begin its world conquest from the Nordic countries, where it will be sold and distributed by Finnish Lekolar, the leading supplier of educational equipment in the region.
In addition to educational institutions, SyraWise is looking into collaborating with firms like insurance companies that could use either the game or the webtool to give safety advice to their customers. However, at the core goal is to increase people’s willingness and skills to help themselves, friends and even strangers even in dire situations.
“If the game gets one person to save another’s life, like a child knowing how to help a sibling who’s swallowed a piece of Lego, we’ve won,” Syrjänen states. “Rescuebusters wasn’t created by a businessman wanting to make profit but an empathetic firefighter and familyman.”