Near Bakhmout, doctors race against time to save wounded soldiers

A tourniquet around his arm to cut off blood circulation, Andriï, a wounded Ukrainian soldier lets out a cry of pain

Near Bakhmout, doctors race against time to save wounded soldiers

A tourniquet around his arm to cut off blood circulation, Andriï, a wounded Ukrainian soldier lets out a cry of pain. "This means that the arm is still reacting," reassures the anesthesiologist, Oleg.

Andriï was injured on Saturday morning near the Bakhmout front line, the scene of the heaviest and deadliest fighting since the start of the Russian invasion.

To evacuate him, army doctors transported him to a specific location where he was then taken care of by a Ukrainian medical unit which took him to a medical center in the Donetsk region.

At first, the paramedics placed a tourniquet around Andriï's arm on the way. Shrapnel partially tore his shoulder, causing an open fracture.

Then a team from the "Ulf" medical unit of the Da Vinci battalion then took over inside the tank. Andriï grimaces, the pain is strong.

In the Donetsk region, the onset of warmer temperatures has turned the snow into hard-to-ride slush.

"The difficulty is this weather, because you can't drive fast," explains the 30-year-old doctor from the "Ulf" unit, also named Andriï.

At the medical center, the doctors lift the injured man and put him on a table, his body wrapped in a survival blanket.

The anesthesiologist, Oleg, tries to reassure Andriï. Without equipment to do a general anesthesia, he must continue to keep him awake to prevent him from losing consciousness.

"Andriï, how are you feeling?" he asks her simply.

"I've already had better days," replied the soldier ironically, before throwing up.

"It's just a reaction to an antibiotic," says Oleg. "We're doing everything we can to make sure you get better," he told the soldier.

A nurse, Liana, 25, wipes her face and asks, "Does it hurt, really hurt?"

According to Oleg, the Ukrainian soldier lost "maybe a liter and a half of blood" in a few hours.

Before taking the road to Kramatorsk hospital, 25 kilometers away, the busy doctors around Andriï try to remove the tourniquet, before finally resigning themselves, for fear that he will continue to bleed profusely.

The purpose of applying tourniquets to open parts of the body is to cut off blood circulation and prevent the injured person from losing too much blood. But the risks are not without importance either.

Arm and leg injuries are among the most common, according to Oleg.

For Andriï, the surgeon, the important thing is to keep the wounded soldier alive, while admitting that keeping a tourniquet on for three hours is "long".

However, he is optimistic that Andriï, the soldier, can survive without amputation.

"We had a case where the guy had (a tourniquet) for four hours and his hand is working (normally) now," he says. And Liana to add: “Everything went very well.

While the medical team is talking outside, a new call from the front arrives to pick up another injured person.

This time, an 18-year-old dark-haired young man arrives, transported in an armored vehicle camouflaged by branches.

The medical team recognizes it immediately: two weeks ago he had suffered a concussion in the accident of the car in which he was.

Her complexion is pale. He suffered another concussion. Doctors prescribe medication and rest.

In addition to Andriï and him, five other soldiers arrive at the medical center that day.

"It's just non-stop," says Andriï, satisfied with the care given to the concussed soldier. "That's why our unit is good: all the steps (to get started) work perfectly, even in these conditions".

"We work twenty hours (a day), 7 days a week, without rest," adds Oleg, who has been there since last summer. "This is a difficult work".

03/04/2023 07:38:45 - Donetsk region (Ukraine) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP