Lifeguard number one: the winner of the Moscow Masters competition - about his vocation and the subtleties of work

July 18
Safety and security

The results of the Moscow Masters competition were summed up in the capital. Mikhail Melnikov took the first place in the Best Lifeguard of Moscow in 2021 nomination. He works in the city search and rescue service on water bodies, at the Krymski Most (Crimean Bridge) station. His total working life is 15 years.

- Mikhail, what did you feel after winning the Moscow Masters?

- For me, this is like another successful swim, a rush forward. Probably, every lifeguard strives for his goal, results, wants to become a real professional. Winning such a competition means that you are already a master, you do the work faster and more efficiently than others.

- What did you remember about this contest?

- First of all, the heat. The competitions were held at a temperature of plus 35. Participants performed tasks fully-equipped, with heavy equipment in their hands. But it was an immersion in reality. It is often necessary to save people in such weather.

The contest lasted for two days. On the first day, we demonstrated our physical fitness in Strogino district: we did pull ups, swam a hundred meters. Then we saved the "drowning man": we threw lifebuoys, dived. In addition, we answered 20 questions about the rescuers work: for example, what tools you need to use, what you need to know from the field of psychology, how to provide first aid and even how to express yourself in English (you never know whom we will save!).

On the second day, the competition consisted of three blocks: Mountaineering, First Aid during Explosion, Man-made Emergency. To show our climbing skills, we climbed to a height, imitated the rescue of a victim during a fire. Of course, I am not a firefighter, but the tasks were common for everyone, and I consider such an experience useful.

I was most impressed by the Man-made Emergency. It was necessary to save the victim during the collapse of structures (such a legend was offered to us). At this stage, I worked with various unusual equipment: Chernyshev ladder for overcoming narrow openings, stretcher, electric cutter, and pneumatic cushions. And at the end of this task, we provided first aid to a person.

In my opinion, the Moscow Masters competition helps to identify weak point. Someone has shortcomings in mountaineering training; someone needs to train in first aid. Rescuers are re-certified every three years, and this competition is a deep exam in all directions at once. It is necessary to start preparing for a month and a half: to get fit, to enter the active phase, as I call it.

Press Service of the Department for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations and Fire Safety of Moscow

- How did you become a lifeguard?

- Perhaps, any boy thinks about a heroic profession. Initially, I wanted to be a doctor. It so happened that I failed entering a medical university. I went to study to be a veterinarian; two years later I realized that it was not mine. At that moment, I was already of military age and went to serve in the army, in the Black Sea Fleet. I turned to be in the inspection group of combat swimmers. In particular, I accompanied ships that had to pass through particularly dangerous zones where Somali pirates were active. I barely had time to return from one combat mission, as I was sent to the next. At the same time, I remembered that as a child I liked to watch the TV show 911, in which they told about the life of rescuers. When I returned home, I learned that those who served in the Navy had the opportunity to get a job as a diver.

After serving in the army, I worked at the Fryazino rescue station, near Moscow. I still remember my first call. The woman went swimming and began to drown. My partner and I ran to the boat almost at motor speed. We swam up to her and dragged on board. She weighed at least 120 kilograms, did not understand that we were trying to help her, it was very difficult. But we did everything right, we managed to do it.

Then I transferred to Moscow. Our Crimean Bridge station is the oldest one; it was founded under Tsar Alexander III. When we send signals to different services, our call sign is Lifeguard Number One. That’s such coincidence.

- Whom are you saving at your current job?

- Now we have to pull fallen cars out of the water, people who decided to jump off a bridge, for example, on a bet, dogs... Even now it is very popular to shoot videos for TikTok. Wanting to catch a rare shot, young people jump from the bridge on board of passing motor boat or cross the river on an inflatable mattress. As a result, they fall to death, break bones, someone gets under the propeller of the boat. Many of those whom we rescue do not know how to swim.

The other day, four calls were received during the shift. Two of them are particularly memorable. At first, two guys decided to swim across the river, and one of them had cramped muscles - he could not move further on his own. Then (this happened before my eyes) a man climbed the highest pylon of the Crimean Bridge at night and threw himself into the water. In that place there was a depth of only one and a half meters. He received numerous injuries. We pulled all the victims out, provided first aid and handed them over to the ambulance.

There are cases when a ship runs aground or a fire starts on board. Here, we also come to the rescue. We pull out the passengers; bring water on the boat to extinguish the fire. If the car fell into the river, we dive after it, break the windows in the car and get people out of the interior. Therefore, we are equipped with boats, life rings, Alexandrov's floating rope ends with two floats, oxygen cylinders, and glass hammers.

In general, when a call comes in, I and my two assistants have six minutes in reserve. In the most critical situation, this is the minimum time for which a clinical death can turn into a biological one. Once a call is received - the clock is ticking. We jump into the boat in our work uniforms, change into diving suits in half a minute, warm-up in winter, lightweight in summer, put on swim fins, masks, attach air cylinders. We find the place where the accident occurred. We send by radio to all motor ships: "Attention, in such and such an area, a person fell from a bridge." This is necessary so that passing motor boats do not damage the victim. Then we look for the fallen one in the water column. And for all we have a few minutes. Then, if necessary, we dress in splints in case of fractures or stop the bleeding. There are no standard situations. The lifeguard is obliged to make decisions ad hoc.

- Do accidents often take place? Now it's hot weather, there are probably a lot of people who want to swim, cool off

- Our district is generally tense: near Gorky Park, where it is always crowded, motor boats pass by the Crimean Bridge, in summer - in five or six lanes. Dangerous situations happen often. There are seven calls per day.

With the hot weather, of course, the days are the most stressful. In addition to the rescue activities, we carry out preventive work. We talk to those who are at risk. For example, we patrol the district; see children playing by the water unattended. It is likely that they will want to swim, and there are no bathing zones near the Crimean Bridge. We talk to them, ask where their parents are, explain why it is dangerous to swim here.

- What attracts you to work in the conditions of an almost constant "storm"?

- Probably, the feeling that I experience from time to time attracts. It is impossible to express in words. This is the realization that I have fulfilled my duty, managed to save. The man is alive! Something similar, I think, is experienced by surgeons. When they come out after a difficult operation to their relatives, they report: "The patient will live." And at this moment you can relax, there is a feeling of joy, lightness.

To do such a thing, you need, firstly, to have three specialties: diver, ship driver and lifeguard. Secondly, it is important to be athletic. For example, I am engaged in running, mountaineering. The skills of a climber are very helpful when rescuing people, when you have to make your way to hard-to-reach places quickly. Thirdly - and this is the most important thing - a vocation is necessary. The staff of our life-saving station has been formed for years. Now we already understand each other without words. We have no right to take risks in vain, it should not happen that, saving one life, and you ruin another.

Our guys can be seen from a distance by the glint in their eyes. They are professionals who do not just feel like fish in water, they completely devote themselves to saving people.


If you continue to use our website, you are agreeing to accept the use of cookies on your device. Cookie files ensure the website’s efficiency and help us provide you with the most interesting and relevant information. Read more about cookie files.
Accept ccokies