Rescue Workers Facing Crisis

11.12.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
Icelandic Search And Rescue (ICE-SAR) are having to rely more on volunteers as the government continues to make cuts.

Stefán Gunnarsson, the acting managing director of ICE-SAR, told Vísir there has been an increase in the number of calls the rescue squad has had to respond to. This he attributes to an increase in tourism. For example, in 2010 there were 101 rescue calls at the Fjallabaki nature reserve. This year, there were 288.

Stefán believes that as tourism increases, more and more people will be taking more adventurous tours, or even renting their own vehicles and venturing out on their own.

However, he argues that the government is not helping, but have rather made budget cuts to ICE-SAR and the police force. He says that it should not be on ICE-SAR to have fundraisers in order to get the money they need. This is in reference to a drive currently underway, wherein ICE-SAR is selling keychains of rescue worker figurines.

Ultimately, he says, Iceland is being advertised more and more as an adventurous tourist destination, and an increasing number of tourists are coming here for this reason. In order to meet the demand, the government should be providing more funding, he says.

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