These people are not celebrities, movie stars or TV heroes. Their activity is mostly hidden from the cameras of the paparazzi, but this doesn’t make them unimportant. Their daily job is to save human lives.
We present to you nine modern Russian rescuers – employees of the Russian Ministry of the Emergency Situations.
1. Denis Osipov
Denis Osipov, specialist in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense, has always dreamt of becoming a professional soldier. His dream came true after graduation from cadet school and the NBC Defense Academy. Now Denis uses his military skills in the civil sector. He is a member of the Leader Center, the EMERCOM section that specializes in high risk rescue operations.
2. Petr Gritsenko
Before Petr Gritsenko turned 31, he had already worked in almost half the countries of the world. He cleared debris after earthquakes in Nepal, Egypt, Cameroon and Tunis, and walked 2 days on foot through the deep forests of Indonesia to the crash site of a plane. For clean-up operations after a flood in Syria, Petr Gritsenko was awarded the Order of Courage. Gritsenko now heads the unit for primary rescue operations in emergency areas.
3. Alibag Kunnuev
Dagestan-born Alibag Kunnuev initially wanted to become not a rescuer, but a policeman. Still, fate took him to the Leader Center, where he had a chance to help people. Alibag became a professional mountaineer rescuer. This is not an easy job. Hot temperatures, high humidity and inaccessible crash sites in rugged forests are just some of the difficulties faced by rescuers. But not only is the rescuer tested physically. His mental health also needs to be in order to operate effectively. Alibag was among the first who saw the crash site of the Polish president’s plane in 2010. “It was hard to see all those corpses,” Alibag recalled.
4. Alexey Mamrenko
Alexey Mamrenko has dreamt about the sky all his life. He wanted to become a pilot, but failed to enter the academy. Still, the sky has become his home. As a paratrooper, Alexey joined the Leader Center, where he made over 5000 jumps from both airplanes and helicopters. “Working at the EMERCOM, I realized that we are the force that helps people to overcome tough situations. We are the most versatile and well-prepared team,” Alexey says.
5. Valery Markov
Destiny wanted Valery Markov to become a fireman. He was chosen for the fire service among six candidates while at school. They were whittled down to one fireman—that was Valery. Markov talks about his job with all respect and seriousness: “Work is work; there’s no room for emotion. Every call for us is an emergency, no exceptions,” he says.
6. Alexey Shamin
Alexey Shamin has one of the most unusual professions at EMERCOM. He is a robot operator and controls such robots as PTC PP, which was designed to search for sources of radiation. Shamin recalls that in 2012 he had to work 28 weeks to gather and store 213 tons of pesticides and chemicals in the Kursk region in central Russia.
7. Maxim Chernenkov
Professional rescuer Maxim Chernenkov chose the hard and dangerous job of a pyrotechnist. Risking his life, Chernenkov has to deal with explosives, mines and unexploded shells from the time of World War II. Chernenkov worked at Domodedovo Airport after the 2011 terror act, and cleared Crimea from dangerous explosive items, including the famous Kerch Fortress. Maxim recalls how he was once at death’s door. During a fire in a warehouse in Serbia in the early 2010s, a heavy object fell on a mine, shattering its detonator. The mine should have exploded, but fortunately did not. Maxim felt like he had been born a second time.
8. Alexey Ishutin
Major Alexey Ishutin belongs to a family of professional soldiers, but at the Leader Center he is responsible for operating drones. Among his tasks is observing crash sites and disaster zones, searching for survivors. Ishutin believes that his profession is one for the future. “My job is a developing and perspective area, that’s my favorite activity,” he says.
9. Svetlana Sonina
All her life Svetlana Sonina has loved dogs and dreamt of working with them. No wonder she chose the profession of cynologist. Her best friend, a dog named Gadi (aka, Queen of the Night) has been trained to search for explosives. Cynologists and dogs enjoy not just working together, but having fun, too. Sometimes they take part in dog competitions and exhibitions. According to Svetlana, the most extreme event in her career was searching for people under debris in Nepal after a devastating earthquake in 2015.