Emergency Responders 'Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst' Over Merchants' Weekend Skip to content

Emergency Responders ‘Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst’ Over Merchants’ Weekend

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Emergency responders are “hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,” in advance of the upcoming Merchants’ Weekend holiday, widely known as the biggest travel weekend of the year in Iceland. Fréttablaðið reports that there was a significant increase in calls to Iceland’s emergency line, 112, as well as a 30% increase in incidents involving the police during last year’s holiday weekend, even though all outdoor festivals had been called off due to social distancing regulations.

“We hope that everyone behaves well and has a good time and doesn’t drive under the influence,” said Tómas Gíslason, assistant director of the 112 emergency line. “Naturally, we expect there to be traffic and emergency responders all around the country are ready.”

The weekend’s biggest festival, the Westman Islands’ Þjóðhátíð, will take part in a largescale collaboration between the 112 emergency line and the office of the National Police Commissioner, which aims to prevent violence in the course of nightlife, music, and other entertainment events. As part of the collaboration, Tómas says there’s been targeted training this summer to help staff better respond to incidents of violence.

The ultimate goal, he continues, would be to have zero incidents of violence reported over the holiday weekend, but Tómas is careful to frame this goal in a more nuanced way. “The goal is naturally zero reports, but still 100% reporting of incidents that need to be reported. We don’t want any incidents of violence anywhere, but if someone misbehaves, then it must be reported,” he said.

Iceland’s National Emergency Line, 112, operates 24 hours a day, anywhere in the country. You can either call the number on your phone or access the webchat, here. You can also download the 112 app, which allows you to access 112 from your phone without calling. You can speak in English on the phone line and the webchat. Resources about violence of all stripes, including abuse in close relationships, human trafficking, child welfare, online safety, and more are available on the 112 website in Icelandic, English, and Polish.

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