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15 Oct, 2009 05:04

Learning to save people’s lives

Rescue recruits at an elite base outside Moscow are being put through the most rigorous emergency training regime on par with that of the military in order to deal with the most dangerous scenarios.

“At the beginning I had doubts, I was scared. I will remember my first parachute jump for the rest of my life,” confesses Robert Shakirov.

In his career, a rescue worker will face a variety of extremely hazardous situations. Although each operation is unique, the constant drills mean the rescuers will not be fazed by any situation – be it putting out a fire, saving a drowning man, or pulling someone from a burning car. Unfortunately, no amount of training can compare to what happens in reality.

Twenty years ago, a cataclysmic earthquake that claimed nearly 25,000 lives in then-soviet Armenia prompted the creation of Russia’s specialist rescue service. Since then, the rescuers have been faced with a string of major natural and technological disasters.

Just this August, a devastating explosion at a Siberian hydroelectric station killed more than seventy people. Man-made disasters alone took the lives of more than 4,000 Russians last year.

As a result of their work over the years, the Emergency Ministry has become one of the most trusted government agencies, and one of the most necessary.