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Ukrainian military learn battlefield medicine in Dnipropetrovsk

Ukrainian military learn battlefield medicine in Dnipropetrovsk
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

A special 5-day training program in battlefield medicine took place at the Mechnikov oblast clinical hospital in Dnipropetrovsk, December 9-14, reports the Dnipropetrovsk Center for Social Research. The training is part of the “Field Hospital” project sponsored by Viktor and Olena Pinchuk for military doctors and personnel.

The training, which is conducted in collaboration with the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was attended by 150 military doctors and civilians involved in providing medical care to soldiers on the battlefield.

The project offers instruction for military medics in the operational and tactical basics of care for the wounded according to NATO standards. The five-day training is designed not only for medical practitioners but also for troops preparing for deployment to the ATO zone or who are already serving there. Classes are conducted by British and American instructors who have experience in providing battlefield medical care in such hot spots as Iraq and Afghanistan. The instructors, who more than anyone know how important each second is for saving lives, report that survival rates of the wounded are increased by 15% if medical first aid is provided directly on the battlefield.

The foreign instructors believe there are serious problems in Ukraine regarding the evacuation of the wounded directly from the battlefield. The obstacles are presented not so much by the lack of medical knowledge as by insufficient tactical knowledge, they say.

According to instructor Mykola Kovalchuk, NATO standards of care are very different from the Ukrainian ones, which have been in existence since Soviet times.

“We can say that in general our armed forces lack experience in tactical battlefield medicine. Individual doctors, individual units, may have this experience, but generally it does not exist. Furthermore, even 5-6 years ago there was a doctrine to make all the military doctors civilians. Our medics lack knowledge. We have adjusted somehow in hospital medicine — the experience and professionalism of the doctors allows us to save soldiers. However, the pre-hospital, tactical field medicine — the so-called self-help — is important. When they bring a wounded soldier to the hospital who has lost 3-4 liters of blood, there is no surgeon that can save him,” Kovalchuk says, as quoted by Den.

Instructors conduct training not only for doctors but also for the soldiers in the ATO zone. The first item taught is  how to stem heavy bleeding, since that is most often the cause of death for many soldiers. “The doctor can’t always be there,” says a soldier who serves near Debaltseve. “This is why it is very important to learn how to stop the bleeding, how to apply a tourniquet properly, how to use medical tactics.”

Participants in the Dnipropetrovsk training who perform well receive special medical bags equipped with all necessary items for battlefield medicine according to NATO standards. Instructors call these bags miniature operating room. On the very first day of class ,the military medics and soldiers received 50 such bags.

This was already the third session of the training project in Dnipropetrosk, where two training cycles were held for more than 100 students in October. Another training session was held in early December in the town of Cherkaske for 150 students, 85 of whom received certificates confirming completion of the full course of study.

In only three months of the Field Hospital project more than a thousand military medics received training in all the regions of Ukraine. Training is usually held in hospitals and classrooms, as well as in mobile hospitals on the shooting ranges where military units participating in ATO are deployed.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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