The bus accident in Southwest Iceland on Tuesday, where 17 people were injured, at least five of them seriously, has brought attention to the importance of being well prepared for such an accident. Rögnvaldur Ólafsson, who works for the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management states that Icelanders are well prepared for a major accident.
With rapidly rising numbers of tourists in the country, the likelihood of major accidents occurring has increased. The number of registered buses is up in recent years, and many of those are driven by drivers with little experience. Tourists who drive rental cars are oftentimes not well prepared for driving in Icelandic conditions.
Rögnvaldur told RÚV, “We have been preparing for such an incident for a fairly long time, and we have periodic drills. The larger the incident, the more complicated it is for us to solve. We have always expected this in our drills; we expect tourists. We have foreigners acting as patients, and we need to provide interpreters, and we need to take care of communication with foreign embassies, and such, as we experienced in the incident [Tuesday].”
Rögnvaldur stated that what worries his department the most is the possibility of a major bus accident. That, he stated, is what response teams all over the country have been anticipating. “There is, of course, an immense increase in this type of tourism, and the higher the number of buses, the greater the likelihood that something could happen. Those are our biggest worries today,” he admitted.