Utoya heroes traumatised

Almost all of the civilians who helped save lives during the massacre on Utoya Island last month are now on sick leave and suffering from the aftershocks of the traumatic events.

Most of the 20-or-so impromptu rescuers who rushed to help from the mainland after hearing gunshots are now in need of psychological help, according to News and Views from Norway.

In an extended report by the Aftenposten newspaper, Robert Wilhelm Johsen, one of the so-called ‘heroes of Utoya’, has spoken about how Anders Behring Breivik’s killing of 69 innocent people on 22nd July will be forever imprinted on his memory.

“When the evening and night come, it’s more difficult. Sleeping pills can help, but then I suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and am lying there, thinking. I just did my duty and don’t feel like any hero,” the 46 year-old said. “But the pictures, the sounds, the thoughts and the questions don’t disappear from my head.”

Johnsen was staying at a campsite on the mainland just 600 metres away when the gunfire first rang out. He and a number of others set off for the island in boats in an attempt to rescue those desperately trying to swim away from the shower of bullets.

“I think especially a lot about the youngsters (still on the island) whom I yelled to from the boat after the gunman was arrested,” Johnsen told Aftenposten. “They didn’t answer. Were they dead? Didn’t they dare to show any signs of life? Could they have been saved? What happened to them?”

Johnsen and a number of other rescuers have still not received legal status as targets of the terror attack that would allow them to receive compensation if Breivik is charged. The far-right extremist has admitted carrying out the island shootings and setting a bomb at government buildings in Oslo, but has denied criminal responsibility for the deaths of 77 people.