Red Cross Names Fifteen-Year-Old ‘First Aid Person of the Year’ 

Fifteen-year-old Arnór Ingi Davíðsson was named the Red Cross’ 2023 ‘First Aid Person of the Year’ in recognition for his quick thinking and cool head last year when his younger brother Bjarki Þór, then ten, was buried in an avalanche in Hveragerði, South Iceland, RÚV reports. The Red Cross gives out the award annually on the 112th day of the year as 112 is the phone number for emergency services in Iceland.

The brothers were playing near a cliff called Hamarinn when a snowbank slid down the mountainside and buried Bjarki Þór. Arnór Ingi acted quickly, locating his brother under the snow, digging it away to uncover his face, and then calling 112 for assistance. He followed emergency service’s instructions until ICE-SAR volunteers arrived at the scene and were able to take over.

Bjarki Þór Davíðsson, age 11; Screenshot via Red Cross Iceland

Arnór Ingi said calling 112 right away is the most important thing in an emergency situation. “I’m really thankful to have had the emergency line with me, it made all the difference. Just to keep him alive and conscious.”

Hjördís Garðarsdóttir, the dispatcher who answered Arnór Ingi’s 112 praised his bravery in the moment, and the care he took to keep his brother as calm as possible. “I think he did incredibly well,” she remarked in a video that was made for the awards ceremony. “Because if you listen to the call, he goes from being extremely scared to extremely reassuring for his brother.”

Even though his brother survived unharmed, Arnór Ingi says the incident still haunts him a year later.

“Sometimes, I can’t sleep and sometimes, I’m watching a movie and there’s an avalanche and something sticks. It’s uncomfortable to watch sometimes, I get flashbacks, but I’m feeling better about it now. It’s not as bad.”

The award was a real encouragement, said Arnór Ingi. “It’s a bit of a boost—crazy to get this recognition, I’m really proud.”

Six Shelters Opened Since Saturday

red cross iceland

In response to the winter weather conditions, the Red Cross in Iceland, in cooperation with several other organizations, has opened six shelters since the weekend.

The shelters can be found in Þorlákshöfn, Kjalarnes, Selfoss, Grindavík, and Reykjanesbær. Additionally, another shelter is being opened in Hella, a small town on Iceland’s South Coast.

The recent cold snap has disrupted traffic across the nation, leaving some travelers stranded, whether due to road closures, flight delays, or other reasons.

A stuck school bus in Þorlákshöfn required using the elementary school there as a temporary shelter, and there are also reports of many travelers with disrupted plans needing to take temporary shelter at tourist destinations like the Blue Lagoon.

Some 1,000 individuals are reported as having used the Grindavík shelter.

In their official statement, the Red Cross wished to “thank our volunteers and staff very much for the quick response to these difficult circumstances.” The Red Cross also encourage people to stay at home until conditions improve. Check the Icelandic Meteorological Office for information on weather warnings and travel advisories.

The official statement from the Red Cross in Iceland can be found below.