The death of doctors: we will follow the rules – we will save those who save us

On May 12, the planet celebrated the World Nurse’s Day. It was established on the initiative of the British, who decided to perpetuate their Florence Nightingale. It is on her birthday that this professional holiday is celebrated. And there is even an international Florence Nightingale Medal, which is awarded to particularly distinguished nurses. Among the awardees there are also our frontline sisters — heroines of the Great Patriotic War.

Florence was born into a wealthy aristocratic family 200 years ago – on May 12, 1820. In April 1855, she arrived in the Crimea at the location of the British troops besieging Sevastopol, to nurse wounded British soldiers.

In Russia, however, it is remembered that by the time Florence Nightingale arrived in the Crimea in the spring of 1855, the wounded defenders of Sevastopol on the battlefield had been bandaged by Sister Dasha for several months – since September 1854. Dasha of Sevastopol — this is how the world’s first military nurse of mercy went down in history.

At the very beginning of the Crimean War, the daughter of a Russian sailor who died in the Battle of Sinope, nee Daria Lavrentievna Mikhailova, sold a small house left to her as an inheritance near Sevastopol, bought a horse, a cart, bandages, and vinegar and wine for everything — so then they washed and disinfected the wounds — cut her braids and moved to the Alma River, where, in the first battle of the defense of Sevastopol, she received baptism of fire. Her dressing station operated right on the battlefield, under the whistle of British rifled bullets. And she also took out wounded soldiers and nursed them.

There was an urgent need for such work then. This is how the famous surgeon Nikolai Pirogov, a participant in the Crimean War, described the situation: “Bitter need and medical ignorance combined in fabulous proportions.”

Dasha became an example for Sevastopol patriots — daughters, sisters and widows of defense participants, as well as girls and ladies of noble origin rescued the wounded.

Ekaterina Griboyedova — the sister of the author of “Woe from Wit” — and Ekaterina Bakunina — the daughter of a senator and grandniece of Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov — were, according to Pirogov, among those who “meekly endured all the hardships and dangers, selflessly sacrificing themselves with heroism that would have done honor to any soldier.” Well, Dasha of Sevastopol was awarded by the sovereign-emperor with a gold medal “For diligence” on the Vladimir ribbon.

We are grateful today to our nurses, who heroically shoulder to shoulder with doctors in the most difficult, downright combat conditions, save people from the insidious coronavirus. And, of course, we will eventually defeat him, and when the moment comes to award those who have distinguished themselves, then, among other things, Dasha Sevastopolskaya’s medal would be appropriate. There is no such medal yet, but it is definitely needed. And it would look much warmer than, of course, the respected Florence Nightingale award, because our nurses are heirs to a rich national tradition.

But let’s return to Sevastopol. At Pirogov’s call, three detachments of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross Community of St. Petersburg arrived there in November 1854. The idea of such a formation belongs to Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, the widow of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, the younger brother of Emperors Alexander the First and Nicholas the First. And Pirogov led the frontline sisters in Sevastopol, considering them irreplaceable.

“It has already been proven by experience that no one better than women can sympathize with the sufferings of a patient and surround him with cares that are not known and, so to speak, not peculiar to men,” the famous surgeon believed.

The sisters of the Holy Cross Community — mostly daughters of noble families — worked selflessly in the besieged Sevastopol. Out of 120, 17 died heroically. Later , the famous lawyer and public figure Anatoly Fedorovich Koni wrote:”This is how the world’s first military community of sisters of mercy appeared. In this case, Russia has every right to be proud of its initiative. There was no usual borrowing of the “last word” from the West, on the contrary, England was the first to imitate us by sending Miss Nightingale and her squad to Sevastopol.”

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the wife of Nicholas II, continued the noble domestic tradition with the beginning of the First World War. Alexandra Feodorovna herself, as well as her daughters Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, after completing paramedic courses, worked as sisters of mercy, caring for the wounded in military hospitals that were deployed right in Tsarskoye Selo and the best halls of the Winter Palace. There were a thousand beds with the best medical equipment at that time, including operating rooms. The Empress herself went to the front in an ambulance train to pick up the seriously wounded from the front.

From a letter from Alexandra Feodorovna to her husband Nikolai the Second on November 20, 1914: “Today I had to bandage the unfortunate with terrible wounds. They are unlikely to remain men in the future, so everything is riddled with bullets. I washed everything, cleaned it, anointed it with iodine, covered it with vaseline, tied it up — all this turned out quite successfully. I made three similar dressings. My heart bleeds for them, it’s so sad. Being a wife and a mother, I especially sympathize with them.”

Alexandra Feodorovna’s younger daughters, Maria and Anastasia, after home schooling, worked as nurses in the hospital and, according to the doctors’ memoirs, “did not play sisters, but were them in the best sense of the word.”

In the Great Patriotic War, a total of half a million military nurses and medical instructors rescued the wounded at the fronts. The Nazis surpassed everyone in cruelty. Frontline sisters had to take up arms. It is no coincidence that hundreds of thousands of them were awarded military orders and medals, including Gold Stars of Heroes of the Soviet Union.

For example, the feat of the Hero of the Soviet Union, medical service foreman Ksenia Konstantinova speaks about the horrors of that war. In 1943, left with the wounded while her unit went on the attack, she saw dozens of approaching Germans. Single-handedly joined the battle, having only a PPSH machine gun and a bunch of grenades. When the ammunition ran out, Ksenia was already wounded in the head, but managed to destroy more than 20 fascists. Captured. The fiends tortured her — gouged out her eyes, cut off her nose and chest. When our people returned, they found a tortured body nailed to the ground with a stake. To be honest, I was thinking whether to give someone a mental discomfort with such a story, but that was the kind of war that you can’t forget.

Today, Russian nurses are also at the forefront. The dead count goes to dozens. It’s too early to talk about the exact figure — it’s still growing. But here are just some of the nurses who gave their lives for us:

– Avdonina Tatiana Nikolaevna (Research Institute of Ambulance, St. Petersburg);

– Kanaikina Tatiana Viktorovna (Republican Hospital, Saransk, Mordovia);

– Kledova Valentina Aleksandrovna (city hospital in Mytishchi, Moscow region);

– Tyshko Maria Sergeevna (Hospital for war veterans, St. Petersburg);

– Merzoeva Larisa Gayrabekovna (Central District Hospital, Achkhoy-Martan, Chechnya).

We named specific names so as not to hide behind dry numbers. Russia continues to lose doctors — doctors, nurses and nurses. If we follow the rules, we will save those who save us.

Text: “News of the Week”

Published 18 May 2020

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