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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pedestrians Slide Straight Into Plaster Casts

Viktor Sinelnikov, 61, sat in the narrow corridor of the first-aid station at the Pirogov Hospital on Leninsky Prospekt, his broken elbow covered in plaster and an expression of suffering on his face.

With at least 20 more people to be seen by the doctor before he could enter the examination room, he killed time sharing his painful experience with unsympathetic fellow ice victims, some with crutches, others with their limbs in casts.

"It was on New Year's Eve," Sinelnikov said, while waiting for his follow-up exam. "I was going home from a friend's house. Of course, we had been drinking, so I wasn't watching where I was going."

"The asphalt was all dry, but there was a tiny patch of ice, and I slipped on it. Stretched out like a cow on ice in a twisted position, three passers-by had to help me get up."

With thawing and freezing temperatures leaving streets covered with ice the past few days, business has been brisk and the lines long at Moscow's local first-aid stations, or travmpunkty.

Dr. Trofim Marinenko, who oversees the travmpunkt at Polyclinic No. 222 in east Moscow, said that the amount of slip and fall victims at his clinic spiked upward in the last week from 64 new patients on Jan. 5 to 94 on Jan. 11. He and three other doctors also treat dozens of patients with other traumas ranging from cuts and burns to gunshot wounds, poisonings and drug overdoses.

Travmpunkty offer first aid 24 hours a day free of charge to anybody injured in the area. If patients need further treatment, they are supposed to get it at their local hospitals. Marinenko said the overall number of injuries is growing from year to year. While his travmpunkt served 50,000 patients in 1997, there were over 53,000 in the last year, he said.

The most common injuries are sprained or broken wrists as people try to break their falls, and sprained ankles. Elderly people can suffer broken hips, and children injure themselves sliding down icy neighborhood slopes for fun.

People start slipping on ice and falling as soon as snow first falls, and it most often happens in the mornings, when people rush to work, and in the evenings, when many victims are drunk.

Yury Yashin, 65, took a spill in the morning, but didn't go to the doctor until the afternoon. "I walked around all day and my arm hurt whenever I moved it," he said, as Dr. Armen Asmalgulyan and nurse Yelena Beshentseva cocooned his upper body in gauze at Polyclinic No. 28 on Ulitsa Pulkovskaya. The verdict: dislocated shoulder. Having swathed his arm, Beshentseva then used needle and thread to keep the bandages tight for the prescribed three-week period.

Alexei Davydov fell on New Year's day at lunchtime - not in the early morning when holiday celebrations could be blamed.

"Unfortunately, I was quite sober," said Davydov, who slipped while getting off a bus and twisted his knee. "I fell down many times in my life, but this one was so scary that I went and surrendered to doctors. They readily shackled me in plaster."

Even though he has to limp around with his knee in a cast for a month, Davydov doesn't get upset. He prides himself in going every day to work with a cane, "like a hero," and says the case provokes lots of "jokes and warm feelings" from friends and co-workers.