From Iceland — Culture Night Emergency Calls Exceed Previous Years

Culture Night Emergency Calls Exceed Previous Years

Published August 22, 2022

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As many capital-area residents and visitors turned out for Culture Night (Menningarnótt) this weekend, a number of crimes and emergency calls were reported—including a suspected drugging, two stabbings, and a record high number of fire calls.

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Woman was drugged and police refused assistance

A woman who went downtown with her husband on Menningarnótt believes her drink was drugged, reports Vísir. However, because she had consumed alcohol, the police refused to help them, and her husband had to leave her nearly unconscious on a bench while he looked for a taxi.

Helga Linnet and her husband went to Lemmy’s on Austurstræti and ordered a drink each, their first of the night.

“I’m halfway through the glass, not quite, when my husband decides to get in line for the bathroom,” Helga says. “When he leaves, a man comes over and starts chatting with me, but when he sees that my husband is coming back, he leaves. But I didn’t think anything was unusual about it.”

After about 10 minutes, the couple got up to leave. On the way down the stairs, Helga says she felt something strange in her legs and then she fell to the ground. She doesn’t remember anything after that, except for occasional moments in and out of consciousness. She says she has never experienced anything like this before.

Helga’s husband approached the police officers who were there and asked for help. An officer asked, “Has she been drinking?” Helga’s husband said she was, but “She has never been like this after one drink.” The officer then said that if she had been drinking they couldn’t help them.

“Somehow my husband managed to push me to a bench while I fell repeatedly. He was forced to leave me there because he had to find a taxi,” says Helga.

Her husband came back with the taxi driver, they put her in the taxi, and then went straight home.

Helga says she contacted her aunt, an intensive care nurse, who recommended salty drinks such as Gatorade, magnesium, and high-fat foods. She also said the emergency room has medications for people who are drugged, but they have to be administered the same evening. People should therefore go straight there if they suspect they have been drugged.

Helga says the police probably thought she was completely drunk. However, it is surprising they would not recognize the symptoms of a drugging and help them.

Helga is still experiencing symptoms from the drug. “I can’t stand properly, I’m shaking like a rattlesnake. My legs are like overcooked pasta.”

“I’m not the only case tonight, and I hope that more people were as lucky as I was to escape,” says Helga.

Two stabbings in city centre

Around 3:30 on Sunday morning, after official Menningarnótt activities ended, police received reports of two stabbings in the city centre. The victims were stabbed in the limbs and chest, respectively, and are still alive, reports Vísir.

Three people were arrested and taken for questioning in connection with the stabbings. One was under 18 years old, and the other two were 19.

Assistant superintendent Margeir Sveinsson says this is part of a larger, alarming pattern of violence.

“This is an increase in the carrying of weapons and also the fact that people, and only teenagers, are more ready to use these weapons when they have them. It is a certain concern that has been discussed within the police,” says Margeir.

Record number of emergency transports

The fire brigade in the capital area has never had to transport as many people by ambulance on a night shift as they did on Menningarnótt. The warden told Vísir that there has been an extraordinary amount of work compared to previous Culture Nights, but that this kind of pressure comes with such a large number of people.

In total, 116 incidents were registered with ambulances, of which 85 were on night shift, which is the most the fire department has seen on night shift.

The calls were almost all in the city centre. The fire department responded to all kinds of incidents, from people running into curbs to stabbings and “everything in between,” says Jónas Árnason, capital region fire warden.

Additionally, the pressure and transportation was greater than on a normal Culture Night because it has been three years since it was last held.

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