For the fifth time, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations holds the All-Russian festival "Constellation of Courage" that gathers together emergency workers, employees of other ministries and agencies, journalists and members of the public involved in rescuing. The festival has long been a popular event and the number of its participants is growing every year.
State Secretary, Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Artamonov told Itar-Tass about the people who are the best in the profession, modern heroes, media assistance during emergencies, and the preliminary results of the activities of the Russian Emergencies Ministry and its development plans.
- Mr. Artamonov, what does the “Constellation of Courage" mean to you personally?
- First and foremost, it is an opportunity to meet new and interesting people, employees of the Russian Emergencies Ministry. Our system is large; it comprises more than 300,000 people working in different cities, big and small towns and villages to protect people. Each person, each participant and, especially, the winner of the contest is a particular, wonderful and huge world. Their fates and histories are filled with a special meaning, a special mission, a bright drama that make each biography worthy of a documentary or a piece of art. The examples of these courageous and determined people can and should educate the younger generation. Although most of them are usually very modest people, and getting to know their actions, you understand that such activities as the "Constellation of Courage" should be carried out more frequently. The "Constellation" highlights the best qualities of modern heroes, promotes the profession of a rescuer, gives an opportunity to thank its best representatives.
Besides, the festival provides an opportunity to feel part of a single and well-coordinated team. When you realize that there are 300,000 people behind your shoulders who take the fight, risk their lives and health every day, then, as a leader, you understand the full measure of responsibility for these people, for their families, for providing them with decent living conditions.
- What is the specific feature that distinguishes this year’s festival from the previous ones? Have you added new categories? Have the selection criteria changed?
- Traditionally, large-scale activities related to the selection of Russian Emergencies Ministry’s employees for the "Constellation of Courage" are carried out across the country throughout the year. Among the participants, there are firemen, rescue workers, pilots, psychologists, doctors and many other professionals working within the system of the Russian Emergencies Ministry. The main feature of the fifth festival is to expand the circle of participants. The Ministry of Emergency Situations is an open structure that actively and constantly interacts with many agencies and services. Together with other ministries, our colleagues from the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, we solve many serious challenges in life safety, protection of citizens and territories, timely and comprehensive assistance during emergencies. This interagency cooperation within the Disaster Management System allows us to effectively carry out the most complex rescue operations. In particular, the Ministry of Emergency Situations is grateful to all ministries, departments and regions of our country for joint work in the Far East in very difficult conditions.
Thus, a special diploma will be awarded at a solemn ceremony to Amur Region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako who organized rescue and recovery operations and liquidated the consequences of the flooding.
In addition, the best leaders of Regional Commissions for Emergencies and Fire Safety will be nominated for the "Constellation of courage 2013" for the first time ever. Among the participants of the festival, there are also heroes children whose stories are always particularly moving. There are new nominations as well, including those related to the journalistic work.
- How are the winners determined?
- "Constellation of Courage" is not just a review of the best in the profession, but an opportunity to get acquainted with the heroes of our everyday work. Perhaps, without the festival, the country would have never known that there are firefighters, rescue workers, who have done something special, what our guys are doing every day, rescuing people, participating in firefighting operations. Every day, over 50,000 firefighters and rescuers enter on duty.
We are working on several fronts: first, we track unique, special rescue operations, which involved the employees of the Emergency Situations Ministry. Secondly, the "Best in Profession" contests are carried out at Main Directorates and then at the level of Regional Centers throughout the year. The participants are selected from among the winners of these events.
"Constellation of Courage" it is not a single event to coincide with the Rescuer’s Day. This is a permanent, serious, responsible work with people. And the choice of winners has never been put into question by ordinary employees of the Emergencies Ministry.
- You've already mentioned the nomination, which will not leave anyone indifferent. It is "Heroes Children ". And how many little rescuers appear annually across the country, how many those who risk their lives to save people? Whether the Emergencies Ministry plans to publish a book or an album of such children by analogy with the Soviet "Pioneers Heroes "?
- This is a very interesting idea that should be brought to life, and we will implement it. In 2015, the Ministry of Emergency Situations marks the 25th anniversary, and over the years, the system saw many Heroes of Russia, honored rescuers and firefighters, as well as children who saved others and became little heroes. We carefully collect all these stories, all the facts when kids saved the lives of their relatives and friends, or strangers.
Such examples are very important, even for students of Russian Emergencies Ministry’s universities, who learn not only from the examples of veterans, but also children rescuers. The Ministry helps those kids, we offer them to enroll in our higher education institutions. I wish that as many of them as possible would become our students, because if a boy or a girl already has rescue experience, they will be worthy employees.
- How popular is the festival among the media? And how would you assess the role of journalists during emergencies, is it more positive or negative?
- The media are our indispensable and reliable helpers, as they bring objective information to the population. Journalists make us approach the information background that we create around the work of firefighters and rescuers more responsible. The leaders of the Emergencies Ministry understand that late or incorrect information may contribute to panic and create some serious problems for the prompt elimination of emergencies.
Therefore, the Ministry works with all the media, and we have no closed topics. But journalists, in turn, should understand that unverified information obtained from other sources must be treated very responsibly, they should work only with those who own reliable information, and bring it to the population very carefully.
There is a joint responsibility between those who save and the media working in the disaster area. Everyone should understand that human lives depend on his steps, words, decisions.
Every year more and more journalists submit applications for the "Constellation of Courage". In 2013, their number is more than 1,300 - reporters, photographers and film crews.
- What is a modern hero rescuer, in your opinion?
- This is a collective image comprising very different people and there is no place for stereotypes. But they all have the inner core, because they go through fire and water, facing the elements, realizing that they are risking their lives. Each year, unfortunately, we lose some of our guys. But the main thing that distinguishes a modern hero is the desire and ability to help and save, is a highly professional job for the sake of salvation.
- The outgoing year has been difficult. How would you assess its general results for the Emergencies Ministry and what are your plans for next year?
- The year was difficult, but, on the whole, successful. We are proud of the fact that no one died during the flooding in the Far East. When it had just begun, not all realized that the situation was critical. In late July, few people thought that we will be eliminating the consequences of flooding until the end of the year and beyond.
Together with other ministries, the Emergencies Ministry keeps on working in this region, but the pace of recovery is objectively reduced by winter. The following year, the flood-affected regions may also face problems. Therefore, the Emergencies Ministry is building the response system in advance, involving leading scientists and experts, knowing what risks may arise in the region. I am sure that we will cope with the complexities, as we are now preparing for them.
In addition, in 2013, we managed to reduce the number of deaths in emergency situations, the total number of emergencies has also fallen, and there is a steady decline in the number of fires and fire deaths, the number of deaths on water bodies has dropped as well. Such a steady decline is a result of a huge job. I am sure that this trend will continue in 2014.
Structural reorganization of the Ministry is being carried out in accordance with a several-year construction plan for forces and resources of the Russian Emergencies Ministry aimed at solving the tasks set by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin in "May decrees" of 2012.
This will allow us to improve the efficiency and increase the number of combat units engaged in fire suppression and liquidation of emergencies. I think we have every reason to look to the future with optimism.