Igor Ilkiv, the head of the medical service of the second battalion of the National Guard about the life of the battalion.
The second battalion, which has been formed in April from three hundred volunteers and has undergone preparation at a polygon near Kyiv, is going to Donbas today.
“UP.Life” met with the head medic of the battalion Igor Ilkiv in order to ask him how well-stocked the medical unit is.
Ilkiv is a military doctor. He survived the conflicts in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. During Maidan of 2014 Igor Ilkiv was the head medic of the October Palace.
Legends are being told about him still. They say that he had conducted talks with the leadership of “Berkut” at led hostages out of the building.
And on February 20th, in an ambulance, he managed to rip through the cordon of “Berkut.” Numerous shouts of, “Stop! We will shoot!” followed him.
Ilkiv knows that to shout in response. He has nerves of steel.
The doctor now only knows how to help other medics when time is of the essence, but also knows how to build a system of first aid provision in a hotspot.
As of today, what is the biggest problem of the medical unit of the National Guard?
When we saw the first battalion off in April, there were only problems with human resources. This battalion was followed by three medical workers only: one of them was a doctor, two were volunteers, which we taught as we went.
Then the first battalion was augmented by another doctor and a nurse. Now the medical service which will escort the second battalion consists of 27 people: 4 doctors, 3 nurses, paramedics in every department, who know how to give aid on location, how to carry out the wounded from battle.
The system is built according to the demands of wartime conditions. We are able to quickly construct a field hospital, if circumstances should demand it.
Our main problem is the absence of paramedic vehicles. We need at least two vehicles. The first battalion is using a car the volunteers have given them. But this is not enough.
We have addressed the Ministry of Healthcare numerous times to solve this issue. But the MOH doesn’t have such power. Because the National Guard is subordinate to the MIA.
Now the MOH has 70 ambulance vehicles, they could give us some through the MIA. Bogatyryova was the one who was supposed to give us those vehicles, but, for some reason, it wasn’t done.
And the people are dying because there is no transport.
Can the first and second battalions be compared? Who is the skeleton of the battalion?
The first battalion was assembled in the beginning of March. Then the people were tired, sick, weakened after Maidan, with various injuries and consequences of various injuries which had not healed.
Two were given surgery after the medical commission, three were not allowed. Five of the morally unstable left themselves. 12 soldiers did not leave at departure.
The majority of the first battalion consisted of people which have survived Maidan. But there were also emergency soldiers and policemen which stood on the other side of the barricades in the battalion. Fights, arguments arose because of this. They insulted our female medics. And we even made them apologise publicly. But on location they were joined by departments of the tank brigade, airborne forces, Alpha and Berkut. And the arguments have smoothened out. Now, of course, they have been united by a common enemy.
However there was an instance. Two people from the first battalion crossed over to the separatists’ side. One of them, however, returned under pressure from his family, the second is now waging war for money.
When speaking of the second battalion, it is better prepared. One fourth of the volunteers have participated in military action. 280 people have served – we have colonels and lieutenants here.
Many soldiers in the second battalion have military education. Their training was fuller in terms of shooting, tactics of warfare. So it can be considered that this battalion is an operative one.
What is the social portrait of a volunteer?
On average 30-35 years of age. All of them are from different corners of Ukraine, it cannot be said that Kyiv or Lviv are leading. Boys from various professions and education. There are even IT specialists.
We have been addressed by the volunteers of the second battalion, they lament that they have no uniform, not protection of any kind. My colleagues and I have calculated that the uniform of one soldier costs about 25 thousand UAH (bulletproof vest, helmet, night vision torch). We have been told that many are being “clothed” by volunteers or their families. How true is this?
Money really is scarce. And so are level four security bullet proof vests. But they will give us more equipment.
The Verkhovna Rada, I heard, has given funds for ammunition but so far I don’t know, this money is “on hold.” What really does save us are the volunteers which helped us during Maidan. The church of the Kyiv Patriarchy gave us a Jeep last week.
There are also volunteers who bring medicine. Recently, they have brought 6 medical bags, fully stocked, they bought stretchers for us. A businessman from Kharkiv bought a paramedic vehicle for us, now we are waiting when they will transfer it to the National Guard.
Can aid be sent to you now?
You can bring it to us – to the training centre of the National Guard. Also the medical service of Maidan on Tryokhsvyatitelska Street is gathering aid for us, and then they send it over. The supplies left from Maidan, the medicine, equipment, machinery, have already been sent over.
Now we are departing for the East with enough medicine for about a week. The rest will be brought to us later.
What is the salary of the National Guard soldiers?
Officially, 1300 UAH. But if the person in question works at a state-owned establishment, according to law, they retain their salary throughout the service, the pensions are retained as well. When we leave for the East, the payments will increase.
But it is obvious that the soldiers are being financially supported by their families, friends, private charities. At the moment the process of medical insurance for the soldiers is underway. This is very important.
As far as you can predict, what will happen to the National Guard in the future?
As far as I understand, the MIA will be transformed. In general terms, there will be no more police. Instead of them, there will be a National Guard of Ukraine, subordinate directly to the Verkhovna Rada.
Part of the current unit of the National Guard is not with us for long, but some will stay and serve on contract.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina