Icy Conditions Send Over Two Dozen to Emergency Room

Since yesterday evening, over two dozen people have visited the emergency room at the National University Hospital of Iceland owing to icy conditions in the Greater Reykjavík Area, RÚV reports.

According to Jón Magnús Kristjánsson – Chief Emergency Physician at the National University Hospital of Iceland – the first patients that visited the ER on account of ice-related injuries arrived at around 8 PM yesterday. The hospital warns of long waits and points to local health centres, as well as Læknavaktin (a medical service provider operating outside working hours).

“Beginning yesterday evening, approximately 15 individuals sought assistance at the ER. Since 7 AM this morning there have also been several injuries. We’ve probably treated about 10 or 15 patients today,” Jón Magnús stated.

Injuries among emergency-room patients have varied: “We’re seeing all kinds of fractures, whether to wrists, shoulders, or ankles. Some have suffered only bruises or scrapes.” Jón Magnús recommends that pedestrians wear crampons.

Asked whether patients were of all ages, Jón Magnús replied in the affirmative. “Yes, we’re seeing people of all ages, very few children, but adults of all ages.”

According to the Icelandic Met Office, icy conditions are likely to persist tomorrow, especially in Southwest Iceland. “Temperatures will remain close to 0. Rain falling on frozen ground makes for slippery conditions, just like this morning. Temperatures are expected to rise over the next 24 hours; however, there is a high probability that icy conditions will persist, especially in the Greater Reykjavík Area,” writes meteorologists Þorsteinn V. Jónsson.

Journalists on 12-Hour Strike Today

Having voted down a proposed agreement with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) this week, members of the Union of Icelandic Journalists (BÍ) went on a twelve-hour strike at 10:00 AM today, RÚV reportsThe strike extends to reporters, photographers, and videographers for online media at Fréttablaðið, Morgunblaðið, RÚV, and Vísir. Print journalists will not go on strike.

Hjálmar Jónsson, Chairman of the Union of Icelandic Journalists (pictured above), stated yesterday that the demands of journalists fall completely within the bounds of the Standard of Living Agreement (a collective bargaining agreement signed in April of this year by various Icelandic unions that emphasises “improved wages for lower-paid workers”). Hjálmar has called for a neutral assessment of the union’s demands. “My offer has not been accepted but it still stands,” Hjálmar stated.  

A meeting between the Union of Icelandic Journalists and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise has been scheduled for next Tuesday. The first proposed agreement was drafted last week. However, approximately 70% of union members voted against the agreement on Tuesday. Yesterday, Árvakur, publisher of Morgunblaðið, laid off 15 staff members.

The first strike on November 8 marked the first time in 40 years that members of the Union of Icelandic Journalists have gone on strike. 

New Map Aims to Improve Safety of Travellers in Iceland

Safetravel.is, which aims to reduce the risk of travel-related accidents in Iceland, has introduced a new map. Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir formally introduced the map at the What’s On Tourist Information Centre in downtown Reykjavík this week.

The new map combines what once were three maps – vedur.is, vegagerdin.is, and safetravel.is – into one. Speaking at What’s On (Bankastræti 2) on Wednesday, Minister Þórdís Kolbrún stated that the new map was a “big step forward in ensuring the safety of travellers in Iceland.” The map displays travel conditions in real time: weather, road conditions, conditions at tourist attractions, wind gusts on roads, avalanche warnings, and more.

The map is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Innovation of Iceland; the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR); and Sjóvá-Almennar Insurance. The Safetravel project was recently renewed with increased funding from the Ministry. The new map is no less useful to locals as it is to tourists.

The map allows easy access to travel-related information, which is important considering that weather conditions in Iceland are known to change quickly.