Less traffic now at Litli-Hrútur
Guðbrandur Örn Arnarson, a member of ICE-SAR rescue team Landsbjörg, says traffic to the eruption site has decreased after the eruption came to a halt. The interest seemed to wane immediately as soon as there was no flowing lava.
Arnarson says that last weekend went well at the site, without major accidents. However, two hikers who strayed from a hiking trail had to be searched. Not long ago, either, rescue teams had to assist a hiker who became exhausted on the “A” hiking trail.
Meeting to decide on next steps
He says that a meeting will take place in and around the weekend to decide on a future presence in the area. “As soon as we assess it as safe to withdraw from this monitoring, we will do so. We must not forget that we are also responsible for the rest of Iceland, which has enough projects.”
Arnarson points out that soon autumn will be upon us and then things may change as the weather becomes worse. He himself went to the eruption sites yesterday. “I came in good weather but went home in the rain and the wind. There was a smile on each face on the way to the eruption sites, but less about it on the way home, as not everyone likes Icelandic rain as much.”
Different views in large organisations
When asked whether the eruption provided a good training for the rescue team, he says that these rescue team members have gotten extra training because of it, but they too have decades of experience. He says that rescue team members generally cheer the success of the project.
“But of course we are a large organization and not necessarily all of us agree. The attendance at these projects shows that there was a great deal of understanding of this amongst our members. However, there is no denying that an operation like this takes its toll. We have a very rigid policy stating that we are not the daily response, we are the backbone of the daily response. It is important to note that in order to avoid abuse of rescue services, funding must be secured for other responders, police, ambulance staff and firefighters. We should ensure the slack while others are recovering their strength, so funding must be secured in order for us to be able to leave the scene.”
More difficult to recruit members in “good years”
He says that recruits are still doing well in rescue work, although the nature of volunteer work has changed.
“We have had a long history of being actively recruited, as people acquire this wonderful knowledge and experience that we have. Then people sometimes move on to the job, or to the traveling industry or other activities. I do not regret training others, even if it does not last long. I appreciate it and appreciate it whenever people move on. We have hundreds of people who join every year. We have over 6000 people backing the community.”
Generally speaking, he says that it is worse getting people to volunteer when the society is doing better financially, because people will have more flexibility to buy their own gadgets and to travel independently.