Wednesday, March 29, 2023

‘We live in hell’: Volunteer bus evacuates wounded Ukrainian soldiers

(Reuters) – In a brightly colored bus serving as a high-tech medical evacuation unit in Ukraine, Stasik lies on one of six beds that are attached to blood pressure and heart monitors and intravenous drips for patients who , who need them.

The 45-year-old soldier, who gave only his first name, lost his right arm when a tank shell hit his position in combat against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The hand has been amputated and he is in a stable condition, and now he and nine other soldiers wounded in battle are on their way from a small hospital in a town that cannot be moved to a larger hospital in the central city of Dnieper for security reasons Could

There they would receive more advanced treatment and rehabilitation, but without a team of doctors to monitor their condition and administer painkillers and other drugs, the journey would be dangerous for some.

Six medics move up and down the narrow corridor between two rows of three beds that run the length of the bus, which is part of the Hospitallers medical battalion of Ukraine that ferries troops across Ukraine. Four more injured are sitting behind.

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“This is really the beginning of something great,” said 23-year-old Andrey Voloshin, referring to the “Avstrika bus” – named after the military call sign of an Austrian volunteer who was on a similar coach before being killed in a traffic accident. used to work.

That vehicle was badly damaged in the accident, so another vehicle has been made in its place.

“We had no possibility before to deliver such a number of casualties among the hospitals in Ukraine,” he told Reuters. “It is important that we provide relief to hospitals near the front line so that they are not overloaded.”

One side of the bus is covered with a giant painting of a woman’s face surrounded by sunflowers, and the words “For Every Life” are written on the other.

The initiative consists of teams of volunteers designed to rotate and spend several weeks on call when troops need to move from combat.

It is only a small part of a vast network of evacuation teams in Ukraine, linking soldiers in the trenches to smaller teams in rear positions, then to field hospitals, smaller nearby facilities and eventually to larger centers in severe cases.

Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed and wounded on both sides of the conflict since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February.

Stasik, who joked with a gold-toothed grin as the bus skidded on potholed roads, said his days in the army were over now that he had lost an arm.

Asked if he would miss his fellow soldiers as he attempted to return to civilian life, the former sawmill worker turned more serious.

“On the front line you understand you could lose this person in a day or two and you try not to have this emotional attachment.

“Frankly there is no point in remembering the boys, because my comrades are dead. It is good that they are no longer in pain. You will die and you will either go to heaven or hell. But we live in hell. Are.” Here.”

(This story has been amended to correct an error in the headline)

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Nick McPhee)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters,

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