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Even one life saved… can save the world!

In the smoky corridors of a hospital, one bears witness to screaming, pools of blood, litter and debris. The wounded lie in makeshift wards or just plainly on the floor. Helping them are two teams of doctors. On this occasion, those injured by the explosions were being tended to by doctors undergoing training from the National Guard and the Ministry of the Interior. This is a simulated exercise and this time, not all lives could be saved. However all students received training in skills which will help them save someone's life in the future.

“Every year in Ukraine more than 5,000 people die on our streets and roads due to motor vehicle caused accidents, explains the Director of the non-governmental ogranisation “Patriot Defence”, Dr Ulana Suprun.  One-third of these can be saved, if we had training courses and if we knew how to provide proper assistance at both the pre-hospital and at the hospital stages”.

It was specifically with this in mind, that in the autumn of 2015, “Patriot Defence” commenced a training course “Ukrainian Trauma Life Support”. Training has so far been undertaken by Doctors from Ukraine’s Armed Services. From 16 – 21 January 2016, Doctors and medical staff from the National Guard and the Ministry of the Interior, undertook such a course based on world standards.

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“Our graduates worked from 8.00 in the morning until 6.00PM, explained “Patriot Defences” Medical Director, Dr Oleksandr Linchevskyy. At times they barely made it from the lecture theatre to the simulation area. Each instructor worked with four trainees for a more effective "hands-on" training experience. Using the lecture system where participants sit and listen to a lecture does not provide an adequate solution in these circumstances. If you want to learn how to tie shoelaces, you actually need to practise tying them”.

Following five days of intensive training and after successfully completing a written exam, the trainees practised on mannequins and were given various scenarios.  However, in a final situation, the reality of working with real people awaits them. The purpose of such stringent testing – to maximise a realistic approach which will reduce the possibility of making mistakes in a real situation.

The role played by the volunteers engaged by “Patriot Defence” including veterans of the ATO who have lost limbs and who have previously participated in such training, is such that better than anyone, they understand the importance of such training courses.

In the basement to which flow numerous corridors, doctors are greeted by 12 situations improvising the wounded to various degrees of severity. Here, the actors have been made up to highlight all possible injuries.

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The first to “welcome” the Doctors is Vasyl, a fighter from the “Kyiv-2” battalion.  During the summer near Starohnativka, Vasyl lost his left leg, and now acts out the role of a wounded fighter   from a trauma based injury.

“What they do here, is an essential service, explains Vasyl.  If I had not been provided with proper and timely help I would have simply died from a loss of blood. The surgeon who operated on me told me that this was the day of my rebirth.  I was save not by medics, but by my brothers in arms. In our battalion all of our boys had been trained in the basics of first aid, and as you can see, this has not been for nothing”.

Groups of medic evacuate the wounded from a smoke-filled room. Those more seriously wounded are provided with assistance in an improvised hospital, whilst those who are able to wait or who have no chance of survival, are placed plainly against walls in the corridor.

The exams undertaken by the course participants are done under the supervision of the trainers who have taught them throughout the course.  Amongst the instructors are qualified Doctors from Ukraine, as well as their foreign colleagues.  Some of the instructors are former members of the military from USA and Great Britain, who have served in some of the world’s “hot spots” and, currently by invitation from “Patriot Defence” are sharing their experiences with Doctors in Ukraine.

The Head Instructor of the course, Alex Bongartz attributes the success of the course: “All of our trainees are prepared for further work. The difference between Day 1, when they started, and now – has been a massive jump. These are very knowledgeable Doctors.  We have simply trained them to focus their skills to a given situation”.

Every trainee was able to cope with the task before them and are prepared to work within the scope of Ukrainian hospitals. “We try to ensure that our training courses reflect the real thing as closely as is possible. Our instructors train participants to provide assistance using the same equipment and the same medicines which are currently available in Ukraine, and specifically available in the hospital at which the training takes place”, explains Dr Ulana Suprun.

     • Read also: Ukrainian Doctors Undertake Intensive Training in International Standards for "Trauma Life Support"

Financial support for the programme, “Ukrainian Trauma Life Support” was greatly assisted by the Ukrainian diaspora of Canada. The Canadian government provided financing via the Canadian-Ukrainian Foundation for the running of four UTLS courses. The next two courses to be run by “Patriot Defence” will be provided for Doctors working for the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.