until Roskilde Festival 2015 - 27 June to 4 July
Tuesday 29.05.12

Ambulances chase drug abusers in Vesterbro in Copenhagen

Two old ambulances filled with volunteers will save lives in the hard drug setting in Vesterbro, Copenhagen. They do this with support from Roskilde Festival.

By: Jeppe Lund

Every year, 300 Danes die from an overdose. That is the highest number per citizen in Europe.

For that reason, two old ambulances drive around Vesterbro up to five days a week, looking for drug abusers and offering them a safe room to shoot the needle into their veins.

- For 30 years, we have done the usual things to help drug abusers. Now it is time to try something different, says Michael Lodberg Olsen, the spokesman for Det Mobile Fixerum (mobile injection-room), which owns the two ambulances.

Since September 2011, the two rebuilt ambulances have gone out to the drug abusers around Istedgade and Halmtorvet in Copenhagen. Several politicians have criticised the arrangement and think that it will sustain the abuser’s addiction, but Michael Lodberg Olsen is of a different opinion.

– They talk despite knowledge to the contrary. An injection-room gets more people in treatment, minimises the increase of new drug abusers, and it minimises crime. Obviously, it is easier to treat a living drug abuser, that it is to treat a dead one, he says.

We have volunteer doctors and nurses driving in the ambulances. They do not help people take the drugs, but they help make it more hygienic. At the same time, the inhabitant in Vesterbro can feel more secure, and it will most definitely reduce the number of syringes that are removed from the streets, which currently is about 8,000-12,000 syringes a week.

Det Mobile Fixerum, which recently received DKK 500,000 from last year’s profits from Roskilde Festival, will keep going until the city of Copenhagen establishes a permanent injection-room with supervision.

Photo: Det Mobile Fixerum

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