Imagine this: You and your family on vacation- Trolltunga is the goal- you`ve seen the spectacular pictures from the special mountain formation and you have read the reviews. You can`t wait.. The weather forecast is not the best, but with only two days available- you are set to do the walk and get your own pictures from the “tongue” . When you all get started, you only have your regular training-gear on – and have not made any special preparations due to a change in weather conditions. You reach the tongue and you get your pictures to post on Facebook and Instagram. But as you are descending the weather is changing for the worse. You start to realise that you and your family is at risk- you are in the middle of an emergency situation. Cold, hungry, exhausted, lost..
What will happen? Who can help?
There are many stories similar to this. Actually about 40 stories about tourists who had to be rescued back down from Trolltunga, in 2016. But who are these people who help others at their own risk?
The Norwegian Rescue Service.
Norway (the government) has rescue responsibility in large areas on land and at sea. With a sparsely populated country, great distances and scattered population, the resources for professional and dedicated rescue units, prepared at all times, is to costly, and the country had to find another way to organize its rescue units.
The very Norwegian and unique way to organize this is as voluntary work. In voluntary work the basic idea is that all suitable for emergency efforts, will register, practice and mobilize under the official coordinated rescue service.
The Norwegian rescue service is therefore a collaboration between official , private and voluntary organizations, and is lead and coordinated by the two main rescue centers (north and south) and subordinate local rescue centers.
- The Official– as police , military and ambulance.
- The Private– as hired services such as private personnel with special knowledge about an area, or hired services from a company with access to planes, boats or helicopter- close to the accident area.
- The voluntary organizations– as the Alpine rescue-teams, the Norwegian Red Cross and Norwegian Rescue Dogs, are the groups that will move out, by foot, if anyone is missing in the mountains.
This means that in case of emergency at any location in Norway, the resources available nearby, will be mobilized. When the emergency is over , these recourses will return to their regular tasks, which can be something very different. Thus, the community/country`s resources are well utilized.
Volunteering is the key.
If a tourist is having an emergency during a mountain hike in Norway, the voluntary organizations will be mobilized to assist in the rescue operation. The voluntary rescue service is the main support in the norwegian rescue system and has about 20 350 members, divided on 9 organizations.
The public depends on the efforts of the volunteers to safeguard the inhabitants – in case of emergency. The voluntary organizations receives some financial support from the government, which is used towards training, equipment and more. The volunteers themselves receives no financial support. This arrangement has worked well under the ordinary conditions, to this day.
The explosive development in the travel industry is a challenge to the voluntary force. Trolltunga is an example. Since Trolltunga was discovered by the international market, the numbers of visitors has exploded from a modest number of 800 visitors in 2010, to the mindblowing number of about 80 000 visitors and 40 rescue operations in 2016. This increase has resulted in over-worked members of the local rescue service.
“ I find myself at Trolltunga at 3 pm, then I get about 2-3 hours of sleep, before I have to be at work at 8 am, the following morning.”
This is the words of rescuer Per Arne Eikeland, in an interview with the newspaper Bergens Tidene. Even though he finds joy in contributing to the community, he finds it problematic that he has to use his days off work, to recover after hard rescue operations. He misses the opportunity to make plans towards familiy activities.
The local Red Cross rescue team (Odda og Tyssedal) received the award for “Rescue-heroes of the year” , after all the hard work during rescue operations at Trolltunga through the year of 2016. And well earned!
The Norwegian Government, travel/tourist agents and the voluntary organizations is now searching for better solutions to the challenges facing mass- tourism. But you can also contribute!
Avoid getting into a emergency situation!
If you plan a trip to Trolltunga, we welcome you. Remember though- this is a challenging hike! Please read up on the “mountain code”. This is a very useful tool towards good preparations for a safe hike in the Norwegian mountains. Also use a local guide, this will ensure your safety and benefit the local community and economy.
Allow us to take you to Trolltunga the safe way!
Visit our web-site if you are searching for activities in the most beautiful parts of Norway.
Marianne Thon Sørensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) 09.05.2017