The ‘Hospitallers’ are a Ukrainian volunteer medical battalion that is not part of the Armed Forces but is in direct cooperation with them in the combat areas. Today, it has almost 60 medical crews who save the lives of Ukrainian military.
‘Bukvy’ has talked to Kateryna Halushko, a 25-year-old battalion paramedic.
What about the situation with medical equipment in the army now? Is it provided by state or volunteers?
95% of medical equipment is imported. Volunteers and we raise donations and then buy the things we need to provide medical care to the wounded. Only 5% is produced in Ukraine. Many businesses stopped operation after the beginning of the war. Volunteer groups from Ukraine and other countries provide us with all the necessary equipment.
Do Hospitallers have all necessary skills to use this equipment?
It is not a problem for us at all. We all had training programs before the war and many people have experience. A lot of new people came after February 24, they have a short four-day training, which allows them to develop skills. If they do not know how to use something, there is always someone experienced, who will show and tell what to do.
In the Armed Forces, doctors actually have no problems: they know what they are doing and do it quite well. The problem remains in the very frontline where the military have to give the first aid: it often happens that the tourniquet is put inefficiently. Sometimes there is a weak tamponade of a penetrating wound, but in general, it comes with experience. Eventually, all the military learn this. They are also given first aid courses before they go to the combat zone.
How do you interact with the military when you need to evacuate the wounded?
The operation of a medical battalion includes four lines: I work in the first line. Two members of my crew and I go to the frontline and provide first aid. We stop massive bleeding and ensure breathing. In the second line, they work with all the necessary drugs, diffusions. There are not only paramedics, but also doctors there. The third line is the transfer to specialized hospitals located out of the combat zone. The wounded are re-examined and surgeries are performed if necessary. The fourth line are hospitals remote from the combat zone.
Each unit can send a request to the Hospitallers if they need additional medical groups. Very often, there may be a lack of paramedics in the units.
When we get the request, we go to that unit and operate with them. We are in constant contact with the Armed Forces medical units and help each other. The army doctors often teach our members.
What are the biggest needs in the army today in terms of paramedics (provision, specific training, etc.)?
We need to teach military personnel who are not medics or paramedics to give themselves first aid. There are tourniquets that a soldier can put on himself, and it is very important to do it in the first 30 seconds after the injury, because this period of time a person begins to lose consciousness. I think the army needs more paramedics and quality equipment.
Did you have to help the wounded Russians?
I have not had such cases yet. It will be very difficult morally to provide first aid for Russians after all they have done to our country, after all their war crimes. However, as a medical worker, I will provide such assistance if a wounded Russian comes on my way.