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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

When Emergency Calls Along the Pampers Trail

It's one thing to devote half a day to the Pampers trail, trying to find a jar of sugar-free infant puree and desperately seeking a swing without a rusty nail embedded in the seat.


That's all part of raising children in Moscow, which, whether we like it or not, is what some of us are doing right now. You can be dynamic and entertaining about it, or moan obsessively -- and, if you have a Russian husband, tell him periodically that you hate his godforsaken backwater of a country -- or drink a handful of vodkas and then worry yourself sick that they've leaked into the breast milk.


But the Wild West spirit, which once lead you to tour the country's "hot spots" in search of a good story with nothing more than a couple of Band-Aids and a bottle of hangover cures in the first aid kit, or simply brought you as an adventurous spouse to Moscow, dies an instant death as soon as you have children and start indulging in those awful "what if" scenarios.


The good side of raising kids here, including cheaper childcare, a nation that loves babies -- a particular novelty for British expats -- and a wealth of child-oriented amusements like the cat and puppet theaters, simply doesn't balance out that haunting knowledge that if, God forbid, an emergency arises, there simply isn't a decent service to rely on.


Even the new "Western-style" medical operations can take hours to arrive, demand either membership or hundreds of dollars when they do, and often rely on local facilities if there isn't time for an evacuation.


The best thing is to be as prepared as you can.


First, take a basic first aid course yourself. The newly dynamic British Embassy surgery runs periodic toddler safety courses, so nag your own embassy to do the same if they don't already.


The Red Cross doesn't yet run its famous safety courses in Moscow. But it is sending a couple of observers on the next British Embassy-run Red Cross course and may, therefore, offer the same course soon.


Get a proper first aid kit -- again, many embassies or medical clinics offer them -- and along with the usual plasters and antiseptic creams they should include things like disposable syringes in case the child is admitted to a rusty Russian hospital.


Finally, along with the EMCs, IMCs, AMCs and -- in desperation -- Russia's 03 for ambulance, there is also a highly regarded Russian information line for children's first aid at 250-9900. You'll need a Russian with you if you don't speak the language yourself.


Another number worth writing down is London's Guy's Hospital Poison Bureau (dealing with anything from pills to berries), a 24-hour service that takes calls from anywhere in the world on 44 (for Britain) 171-635-9191 or 955-5095.