Nurses in Iceland are encouraging people to participate in a march against traffic accidents today at 5 pm by the National Hospital on Hringbraut in Reykjavík. Though fatal accidents have decreased, other serious accidents have increased.
“Our phone has not stopped ringing and it seems as if half the nation plans to join us,” Bríet Birgisdóttir, a nurse at the intensive care unit at the National Hosptial, told Morgunbladid.
Fatal accidents during the first four months of this year have decreased considerably compared to the same period last year, but at the same time accidents leaving people severely injured have increased by 60 percent year over year, from 30 to 48.
“People obviously take this development very seriously and they feel the accidents are close since our community is so small,” Birgisdóttir said. “We, who work in the intensive care unit, are responsible for the people who are victims of the most serious accidents and it is often very difficult.”
“Not everyone can imagine how difficult it is for parents to arrive at their children’s sickbeds who are severely injured in here,” Birgisdóttir continued. “Some survive, but others die and it is simply horrible to witness the toll that traffic takes, which we experience in its cruelest form in the intensive care unit.”
Birgisdóttir explained people often feel relieved when they hear in the media that victims of traffic accidents are no longer at fatal risk and have been released from the intensive care unit, and don’t realize that they may be paralyzed, have lost limbs or suffered severe head injuries.
Sigurdur Helgason, the information officer at the Road Traffic Directorate, said the development of serious traffic accidents is worrying. “We have to continue eliminating speeding and driving while intoxicated, which are the main causes of serious traffic accidents.”
The march, which ends by the National Hospital building in Fossvogur, is supported by every employee in the hospital, police and other emergency services.