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Ambulance station

Ambulance station


The exposition titled as "Ambulance Station" is intended to introduce museum visitors to a typical medical facility from the late 19th century. It was opened in 2006 on the location of the former "servants’ quarters" of the Chekhov estate. This is a sort of generalized image of a rural ambulance station in Russia during the cholera period in 1892-1893.

It is well known that when buying Melikhovo, Anton Chekhov planned to "practice medicine in the most thorough way." That is why, in the very early days of his life in Melikhovo, Chekhov, upon meeting local peasants, introduced himself as a doctor. Much to their surprise, he treated patients absolutely with no personal gain and provided them with medicines for free.

In the spring of 1892, a cholera epidemic outbreak occurred in Russia. It originated in the southern provinces and was spreading to the central part of Russia. The Serpukhov Zemstvo* authorities approached Anton Pavlovich with a request to take over the duties of a sanitary cholera doctor. And Chekhov immediately agreed to this proposal. Hereupon, a huge number of problems pressed on him from all sides: construction of cholera barracks, sessions in the Sanitary Council, lots of troubles associated with fitting ambulance stations with equipment and medicines.

Meanwhile, people expected new works from the writer Chekhov, who left Moscow and moved to the country, and he had to reply to his publishers: "I don't have anything ready for you. In anticipation of cholera, I was appointed a sector doctor, and almost the whole summer I was busy with medical matters of care..."

In addition to twenty-five villages, Anton Pavlovich's sector included four factories and the monastery of Davidov’s Hermitage. "The new Melikhovo medical section included the villages of Semenovsk. Volosts**  – Maksimikha, Vidishchevo, Shcheglyatevo, Okshino, Sokolnikovo, Telyatskoye, Leshino; Bavykino volost – Ugryumovo, Kurnikovo, Novoselki, Vas’kino, Bortnevo, Melikhovo, Birshovo, Maltsy, Barantsevo, Davydov  Monastery, Pronino, Galygino, Moshonky, Pleshkino, Legchishevo, Bavykino, Perkhurovo, Kryukovo" (from the report of the Serpukhov district Zemstvo Sanitary Council, October 1892).

The temporary Melikhovo medical station was located in a peasant hut rented by the Serpukhov Zemstvo. The exposition titled "Ambulance Station" just resembles such a rustic hut, equipped for treating patients.

There is a long bench along the wall. This part of the ambulance station was called a "waiting area". On the other side of the house there is a doctor's room. It is known from old-time reference books that usually a patient reception room was furnished with a desk, 3 or 4 chairs or stools, a wooden painted couch, a table and cabinets for tools, a basin, an Esmarch mug, jars for bandages, a first aid kit, which every zemstvo doctor was provided with. Anton Pavlovich also had such a first-aid kit.

In addition to the regular outpatient appointment in Melikhovo, Anton Pavlovich held reception of patients every Saturday in the factory village of Kryukovo, and every Wednesday in the village of Ugryumovo. There were ambulance stations arranged in log barracks built by factory owners in case of cholera, to accommodate bed patients. Internal inventory, such as: medicine cabinet, tables, benches, washbasin, etc. were provided by the owners both in Kryukovo and in Ugryumovo whereas medicines, bandages, dishes and necessary tools were brought there by a doctor. Although the reception was intended for factory workers, patients from both these villages and the nearest neighboring ones were freely admitted as well. 

In Zemstvo report such temporary patient reception sites in Kryukovo and Ugryumovo are stated as ambulance stations. This activity, as well as the fact that Chekhov received outpatients in Melikhovo, suggested to name our exposition as the "Ambulance Station".

Translator’s notes:

*Zemstvo - a district and provincial administrative assembly in prerevolutionary Russia.

**Volost - a small administrative district in prerevolutionary Russia.