укр eng

Simple principles save lives. It’s important to know them - AZOV soldier on the loss of Ilovaisk and Marinka


The hero of our interview is a soldier fighting for Ukraine. For him, the war is another world - a world where friends and comrades die; where people die in a matter of minutes; where you can save lives by adhering to simple principles. A year ago he completed training with "Patriot Defence" and went to the front equipped with a NATO standard IFAK and battlefield first aid knowledge. He saved many of his brothers-in-arms, not only by applying tourniquets, performing decompressions, packing wounds, but also by sharing his own experiences. The right equipment helps, but knowing what to do and when to do it, save lives.

Now I understand what to do to save someone’s life. That's the most crucial

I’ve seen wounded people before. After training though, I began to perceive these situations completely differently. Previously, I didn’t know what to do when I saw amputated limbs. Now I understand what to do to save someone’s life. That's the most crucial. Thank God that I participated in this training (“Patriot Defence” CLS course); many lives have been saved because of this.

At the beginning of August, we were involved in active combat. One day, we were suddenly called to duty. I grabbed the IFAK. While we were traveling, I had an hour to explain to the others how and what to use so they would have an idea. Just as we arrived in Marinka, a landmine exploded behind me. The explosion was very powerful, and a lot of people were injured; one soldier was hit by a sniper’s shot to the leg. I bandaged his wound, and without performing any other care I sent him immediately to the doctors. Another boy died while in the hospital. His leg had been severed. The boys who had been attending to him said that during transportation, not even a drop of blood fell, and he had been conscious. They don’t know what happened in the hospital. This was the first time that I saw that the IFAKs and training work. People are alive, and that is what’s important.

If everyone had had an IFAK from the beginning, maybe there would have been more of us left

In Ilovaisk on August 10, during an offensive, the soldiers were caught in an ambush with a limited amount of IFAKs. On the radio I heard, "Svitlyachok is injured." An artery had been caught in his shoulder. I knew that there were no medical specialists around, but he had blocked the hole with his finger, so at least that was a start. Then I heard, ‘Bereza is injured." No one said anything else. He is one of my oldest friends. He was 400 meters away. I saw eight people on the ground, all unable to get up. They weren’t far, but the artillery fire was so accurate that you couldn’t lift a hand or foot to offer help. So we ran. We asked the man driving the pickup to go and collect the bodies of the living and the dead. While we were driving they had already picked up Bereza’s body, but Svitlyachok was laying there, dead. The boys said that he had immediately turned pale when he fell.

They had thrown Bereza an IFAK, which was then left on the field. He was able to plug the hole in his leg, but the through and through he sustained began to bleed quickly. He had an IFAK; maybe he did not apply the tourniquet correctly? He had been beneath enemy fire, and when they finally collected his body, the ground was soaked with blood. He had died very quickly. I blame myself for this, but this is how these things happen. Maybe this is the way it had to be? We strongly felt the deficit of only having a few IFAKs. If everyone had had an IFAK from the beginning, maybe there would have been more of us left.

When your friend goes down, the first thing you do is shoot back with maximum force. Afterwards, you can do everything else

Sokil lay there screaming. When I looked, there was blood oozing everywhere.  Technically, I didn’t follow protocol because I was completely exposed when I pulled him out. Right before, I had grabbed a gun and emptied my ammunition belt in response to the separatists. The instructors told me, "When your friend goes down, the first thing you do is shoot back with maximum force. Afterwards, you can do everything else." I didn’t understand this then, but that’s how it happened in battle. The artillery fire had stopped so I began attending to Sokil. I cut open his shirt, took off his bulletproof vest. The bullet hole was small and his liver was coming out through the skin. He screamed with a voice that wasn’t his own. I tried to reassure him by saying, "Roma, everything is fine. You’ve been hit and there’s a small hole. I’m going to patch you up and we’re going to keep fighting." It helped that he didn’t realize the extent of his injuries. The bullet had gone through all his organs with no exit wound, so the bullet was still in there. I covered his wounds and sent him to the doctor with Vuyko. The Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) started up and I gave the order to leave. If the IFV would have been hit, they wouldn’t have saved anyone, so I stayed behind to shoot with the grenade launcher. We did everything we could to keep stay alive.

After everyone retreated, I stayed on the field. We had to crawl because the enemy saw everything; who was standing, who was lying down. Dzyndzya was injured. I unstrapped his bulletproof vest; even though he was wearing one, he was wounded in the ribs where there wasn’t any protection. I didn’t think his lung was punctured because his breathing was normal and there wasn’t any blood, so I covered the wound. They said that he was brought to the doctor quickly, that they didn’t waste any time. It turned out that his lung was punctured, but he survived.

Sokil had 12 operations in Ukraine and one in Germany. The first operation was done somewhere on site, and then he was transported to the Shalimov Institute. The doctor said that the fact that he is alive was unbelievable and defied all logic. He had been administered good first aid. But even after all his operations, Sokil died.

The knowledge shared by the instructors increases your chance of survival by 70%

People who have never been to war see things with clouded vision. It makes a difference when you see everything that goes on, when you see blood. Even if you simply give an IFAK to a medic, he, and half the other people, won’t understand how to use it. Many people ask for just the IFAKs, and I tell them, "Why would you need it, if you won’t know what to do with it?" It’s important that everyone know how to use it. You don’t need to be a specialist; there are basic injuries that require simple treatments to keep people alive. Without training, the IFAK can only be used 30% of the time or less. Unfortunately, we only learn after blood has been shed.

The knowledge shared by the instructors increases your chance of survival by 70%. When someone falls, you are motivated to go help them by your own good will. It’s better to take action and save someone than to sit back and not do anything. People who did not undergo instruction didn’t realize how vital it is to provide assistance in the first few moments; they don’t think that in two minutes a person can bleed out and die. To save someone doesn’t take much, just a little bit of time - the first few minutes are important.

Simple principles save lives

Tourniquets are vital. Even if you don’t have an IFAK, you have to provide a tourniquet. The Ukrainian ones are Soviet and rubber… of course you can use whatever material you can, but the CAT military tourniquet is very fast and effective. When someone severed their leg and a tourniquet was applied, not a drop of blood fell while they were being transported to the hospital, 50 km away. I was astonished; the sheets were completely dry.

When you give the soldiers something you must communicate to them why it is important. It’s quite simple; basics save lives. To stay alive, a small needle is all that’s required for a pneumothorax. People that have fought in the West have come to this realization. We don’t have the practicum or the methodology here, and we’re paying the price with many human lives. We are now beginning this practice, which is much needed, because it has saved numerous people. It happens that, millions are spent saving lives but here, people who know the straightforward principles save lives.