Adventure and Action with the Icelandic Search and Rescue Team

We join Luminox and ICE-SAR for missions on land and sea

Iceland—with its active volcanos and glaciers—is a dream destination for photographers, outdoors enthusiasts and anybody choosing to eschew traditional beachside vacations for a little more adventure. We were recently among those aforementioned types, as we joined Luminox and the Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) team for the launch of their ICE-SAR Arctic 1000 series—a collection designed for an elite group who live in accordance with the motto: “every second counts.”

With a permanently illuminated dial, the ICE-SAR Arctic series is the ideal watch for members of Iceland’s Search and Rescue team as they focus on sea, snow and land rescue missions—for visitors and citizens. Made from carbonox and patented Luminox light technology, this watch was put to the test as we embark on two days of rescue missions across the land of fire and ice.

Image courtesy of Luminox

We’re joined by globally renowned British polar expedition leader and explorer, Alex Hibbert, on our mission. In addition to having broken world records for polar journeys through some of the world’s most treacherous terrains, Hibbert also used the ICE-SAR services—during his own expedition through Iceland which went wrong. Needing to be rescued from a glacier absolutely taught Hibbert a few lessons, and he says, “If you have a tough experience, own it and learn from it.”

One mistake often made by many—explorers or not—is trying to remain in control of everything in their lives. “Keep space in your head for dealing with the big issues by letting go of the small things,” he says. And, as our lesson in search and rescue gets closer, Hibbert offers another piece of advice: “Honestly identify skills that you lack, and find a team that fills those gaps. Learn from your team and offer them your skills and expertise.” It’s these very lessons that have helped keep him alive as he continues to forge ahead into sparsely populated areas of the globe.

By Mike Tommasiello

With all of this in mind, we find ourselves in an actual Icelandic rescue boat, going out into the Greenland Sea. While the ice-cold waves are breaking in our faces, Hibbert straps us into a harness, “Make sure you’ve practiced your art/profession/specialization endlessly and be familiar with your gear. This means you find the pressure of the day-to-day comfortable, and have coping headroom for when it all goes wrong and you need to stay clear and calm.” Firmly strapped in, now we won’t fall off the boat and become one of the people we’ve set to rescue.

Image courtesy of Luminox

As waves break against our rescue vessel and bodies shift around, it’s immediately clear how people can find themselves in trouble out on these waters. We watch ICE-SAR members rescue those in need from the water, and once everybody’s safe, we head back to shore.

Back at base, we dry off and get ready for our land rescue. Hibbert and ICE-SAR members debrief on what occurred and what’s to come. Next, we’re told how important it is not only to check equipment, but also to assess what’s necessary. If we’re carrying or wearing anything that’s not essential, we’re asked to remove or change it. Hibbert explains that if you’re not constantly optimizing, you run the risk of getting too comfortable and that’s where mistakes tend to happen. 

Image courtesy of Luminox

Our last location—the land rescue station where ATVs are aplenty—looks like we’ve landed on a different planet. Dressed in bright orange safety suits and helmets, we pair off to ride the ATVs, tour the surroundings and see past crash sites. It’s here that Hibbert offers his final piece of advice: always leave a little time (especially during the hectic preparations for a trip or event) to be screen-free and undistracted. This, he explains, will give your brain the time to be creative and solve problems it wouldn’t even think of when overstimulated. With that, he puts on his helmet, boards his ATV and begins to forge the path ahead. It’s as though he has purposefully left us (screen-free, of course) to consider how we can make every second count.