Busy Easter week for rescue crews

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The Norwegian Red Cross reported nearly 600 injuries in the mountains during the Easter holiday week, but said that was “normal” when so many people were out trying to enjoy the last days of the ski season. The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is always the busiest of the year for Red Cross workers and volunteers.

The Norwegian Red Cross made its presence known over the long Easter holidays, like here at Sjusjøen in the mountains above Lillehammer. PHOTO: Views and News/Morten Møst

When the holiday period wound down on Monday, Red Cross officials reported 581 injuries and said they were called out on a total of 172 emergency situations around the country. Fully 24 were search and rescue missions.

The number of injuries was “more than last year, but then there were very few,” Helge Andersen of the Red Cross told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

The most accidents occurred on Good Friday, with 19 in the mountains of Møre og Romsdal alone, according to Mareno Gjerdsbakk of the Langevåg Røde Kors chapter. None were serious, though.

Andersen said crews were also called out after two minor avalanches, but search operations were called off when it was determined that no people were in the affected areas.

The Easter holidays, when thousands of Norwegian traditionally head for the high country, came late the past two years but relatively early this year, and the weather many places turned cold despite record warm temperatures in mid-March. Icy winds, difficult skiing conditions and some heavy snowfall in western and north-central Norway caused problems for some trekkers who ended up needing help from rescue crews.

Most of the injuries involved broken bones after falls on hard, icy ski trails. Around 600 volunteers helped out this year and also staffed refreshment stations along many ski trails. The stations offer a source of fund-raising and recruitment opportunities for more volunteers, on whom the Red Cross relies.

“Easter is an important time for us, to show what we do and recruit new members,” Gjerdsbakk told NRK.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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