"...I have 43 x-rays: can I be healthy?"
“…I have 43 x-rays: can I be healthy?”

Any event, even the most tragic, that has ever happened in world history, is gradually forgotten. Only the memories of their direct participants sound like a reminder to all humanity about the most important thing – about memory, respect and lessons, from which all living should draw conclusions.

Sergey Gorshkalev was one of those who, among the first Zhytomyr rescuers, went to liquidate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. He was part of the combined detachment, which was led by fire department veteran Boris Chumak. Today, Sergey Efimovich recalls the spring of 1986 quite calmly.

During the time that has passed since the liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, the man learned to keep all emotions in himself. However, remembering the comrades who had passed away, who worked together with him side by side, he feels pain, which overwhelms his heart, to the naked eye.

On that fateful day for the country, April 26, 1986, Gorshkalev had a day off. Like most citizens of the vast Soviet country, he did not even realize that a terrible technological disaster had occurred in the Kiev region at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the night from Friday to Saturday. But literally a day later, rumors of tragedy were circulating around the country.

At that time, in conditions of total silence of information, it was possible to find out about some extraordinary event only thanks to reports in the evening program “Time”.

Zhytomyr rescuers were officially informed about what happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant only during the May holidays. An enhanced version of service was introduced beginning from May 1, which lasted for ten days, and on the night of May 10, Sergei Gorshkalev went to Chernobyl as part of a combined detachment. The combined detachment was based in the village of Ivankov.

“There was no fear,” Sergei Efimovich recalls his emotions, “there was a slight excitement, because we did not know what had happened and what we had to face until the last moment. We were taken to Chernobyl like blind kittens.”

Sergey Gorshkalev was in Chernobyl for a long 14 days. He and his colleagues lived in a dormitory under the constant influence of radiation. Today, it is difficult to accurately determine what level of radiation was in Chernobyl then, and what dose of radiation Sergey received along with all the liquidators who were at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at that time.

Dosimetrists who measured the radiation dose were clearly ordered: more than 1 x-ray per day should not be indicated in official reports. This requirement was reinforced concrete and was strictly observed.

Iodine and sour milk

“Everyone saved in different ways, sometimes even with red wine, which, according to doctors, could slightly neutralize radiation,” Sergei Efimovich recalls. Each of us was given individual first-aid kits. They contained capsules to protect the thyroid gland and iodine, which they advised to drink with milk, but it was unrealistic to get fresh milk in Chernobyl. So, we drank sour.

In those days, Sergey Gorshkalev had to carry out a lot of tasks, and the rescuers appreciated this. The multifaceted nature of the tasks that arose during the Chernobyl shift did not cause fatigue for the rescuer prepared for extreme situations, did not knock out the rhythm, but mobilized instead.

He and his colleagues, working in shifts of 4-6 hours, supplied water for concreting the reactor, irrigated the territory to extinguish radioactivity, scouted the territory, measured the radiation level and put marks on the map, pumped out contaminated water from the reactor.

Sergei Efimovich recalls how heavy machinery went out of scale at his eyes, the engines of helicopters and armored personnel carriers refused to work.

Long 14 days in the radioactive zone did not pass for Sergei Gorshkalev without a trace. Doctors diagnosed vegetative-vascular dystonia with the liquidator, the most common diagnosis that doctors diagnosed with most liquidators of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Doctors were strictly forbidden to state that the patient had radiation exposure above the permissible norm.

Gorshkalev resigned as a lieutenant colonel. The veteran recalls with pride and sadness about thirty years given to the fire service.

“… Dreams about Chernobyl still exist, but only liquidators and stray dogs emerge in the memories,” Sergei Gorshkalev notes, there was no one else …”

Sergei Efimovich does not complain about life and does not regret the days spent in Chernobyl, only emphasizes that it was his professional and human duty. However, like all his colleagues, the liquidator, except for the physical pain that he was left with for the legacy of the 14 Chernobyl days, there is emotional anxiety – and what will happen next? How will the “generation without Chernobyl” grow up, can it obscure the world from yet another atomic disaster?

“We must ask these questions not only to the state, but first of all to ourselves, Sergei Efimovich believes. Every Chernobyl man has the moral right to hear answers to them, as well as the right to be protected from survival beyond the limits of the possible, losing faith in tomorrow every day.”

According to the documents, I received a radiation dose of 43 X-rays, and this was when it was forbidden to put more than 20 X-rays. There is a question – can I be healthy?

Let those who try to consider the Chernobyl tragedy as an element of history, and “Chernobyl victims, with their sores,” social dependents, try to answer this question. Chernobyl is not only about death, pain, loss of health, and doom. Chernobyl is also about duty, honor, memory, compassion and humanity.