Elena Chernyshova is a Russian documentary photographer. As a self-taught photographer, she developed a passion for visual language during her studies in the architectural academy. In 2006 Elena resigned from her job. She had a trip in mind: she cycled from Toulouse to Vladivostok and back: 30,000 km, 26 countries, 1,004 days. Photography is a way to investigate the daily life of different groups and communities in the context of environmental, political, and economic changes. She received the WPP award in 2014. Elena's work was published in National Geographic, Geo, 6 Mois, Stern, Le Figaro and others.
No roads, 209309 square kilometres of taiga, swamps and permafrost (an area equal to 2/3 like Germany), 16 000 inhabitants living in around 28 villages - this is a short overview of Turukhansk district located in the center of Russia. Helicopters are not only the one regular year-round way of commuting but the only way to get urgent medical help. More than 300 flights operate every year, and the state covers all expenses. However, these measures do not solve the problem of an increasing lack of paramedics in places.
Helicopter with paramedic is flying above taiga to provide urgent medical help for a patient living in a remote area.
Anna, a Turukhansk paramedic, is flying in a helicopter that serves as a wing ambulance to a patient. Strong vibrations during flight affect the spine. It is less harmful to stay in a horizontal position. The flight duration can be up to five hours.
A view of an endless taiga from a pilot cabin.
Small villages of 50-300 inhabitants on the board of Yenisei River and its streams. Villages are connected by sailing during the summer and by helicopter flights all around the year.
The onboard mechanic adjusts a correct landing by showing signs to a commander. Snowmobiles are approaching a landing site. They will bring a paramedic to a patient's house and will transport them both back to the helicopter.
A Patient with a gunshot wound is lying on a couch of an ambulant clinic in Kellog village – 2 and a half hours of flight from Turukhansk. The uncle of the patient suspected that he stole a detail from his snowmobile. After a heated discussion, the uncle shot the legs of his nephew.
Olga is examining gunshot wounds on the legs of the patient. Kellog is a national kets village with a population of around 300 people. It has an ambulant clinic with only one paramedic and one nurse.
A patient and a paramedic are transported to a helicopter in sleds attached to a snowmobile. A snowmobile is the main transport of locals during the winter.
Vladimir (67) had a stroke at 2 am. A helicopter could fly only at 10 am because of severe weather conditions. There are no paramedics in Verichagino village. Low salaries, isolation, stressful life conditions do not attract young specialists to remote areas. A chairman of a village has a specially formed medical kit for an emergency. He can contact Turukhansk doctors and ask for a consultation, and in case of an emergency for a flight.
Turukhansk district has a severe northern climate. Hard weather conditions often limit flights: the temperature drops to -50 C, visibility less than 1000 meters, the lower clouds threshold is less than 100 meters.
Helicopters have no special medical equipment. Flights of wing ambulance are made on a standard multi-functional helicopters Mil Mi 8. Patients are located in the helicopter aisles on a stretcher, wrapped in a warm blanket.
Radiologist Stanislav and paramedic Alexey are observing the injury of Leonid on x-ray.
Leonid (56) is sitting on a bed in the Turukhansk district hospital. He arrived by a helicopter from Svetlogorsk, a settlement created for maintaining the Kureiskaya HPP. Since 1989 its population decreased from 7039 to 858 inhabitants. Its two-story hospital is empty. There is only one doctor. After injuring his leg, he was sent directly to Turukhansk.
A woman is coming back home on a public helicopter after giving birth in the Turukhansk district hospital. The state covers expenses for the flights linked to the pregnancy observation and the birth-giving for women from remote areas with a reduced income.
Patients are waiting when a helicopter will land in taiga near a hunter's cabin. Patients are requested to arrive at the landing site beforehand. This strategy will help to save time.