Icelandic emergency man is female and sells well

The Icelandic search & rescue organisation ICE-SAR (known domestically as Landsbjorg) sold over 60,000 plastic figures in its annual Neydarkall appeal at the weekend, raising ISK 90 million (EUR 568,000).

In Icelandic ‘Neydarkall’ means ‘distress signal’ (or Mayday), but it could also be translated as ’emergency man’. That is why the Neydarkall is a little plastic man dressed as an Icelandic volunteer rescue worker and his Mayday message is a call for cash to keep the vital volunteer organisation running. The Neydarkall comes fitted with a keyring and is a common decoration for bunches of keys.

ICE-SAR volunteers were selling the little figures for ISK 1,500 (EUR 9.50) each in prominent locations in towns and villages all around Iceland at the weekend and ICE-SAR manager Kristinn Olafsson told RUV that sales went better than hoped for. A lot of people in Iceland collect the emergency men; as they look different every year — in fact this year “he” is actually a female mountain rescue skier.

“We felt a great level of solidarity from the nation and are very thankful and moved by the massive support we receive,” Olafsson said. “We think we have sold around 60,000 of them, which is a great result and we are euphoric.”

He adds that volunteer rescue workers had many good discussions with the public at the weekend. “Our work is very well-known among the public. Although not everybody knows that the vast majority of our domestic workload is in towns in connection to bad weather and other assistant to urban dwellers. That means that our work is first and foremost here among the people and the number of such call-outs has been increasing.” But people who venture out into the mountains should think more about their equipment and protect themselves better, he said on a different note.