THE WIDER IMAGE

Ukrainian army medics fight to save lives near frontline

THE WIDER IMAGE

Ukrainian army medics fight to save lives near frontline

Medics treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers inside a frontline medical stabilisation point, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Ukrainian army medics fight to save lives near frontline

In a dingy medical outpost near eastern Ukraine's front lines, army medic Viktor battles to save lives on a daily basis. Nearly a year into Russia's invasion, fighting now amounts to attritional duels of artillery and infantry assaults, with neither side making significant gains. The costs of that deadly grind are clear to Viktor's team of seven medics and six nurses as it toils away, hemmed in by racks of medical supplies and portable heaters, at this "stabilisation point" in the Donetsk region, where battles are fierce.

Filed

Filed: February 21, 2023, 8 a.m. GMT

In a dingy medical outpost near eastern Ukraine’s front lines, army medic Viktor battles to save lives on a daily basis.

Nearly a year into Russia’s invasion, fighting now amounts to attritional duels of artillery and infantry assaults, with neither side making significant gains.

The costs of that deadly grind are clear to Viktor’s team of seven medics and six nurses as it toils away, hemmed in by racks of medical supplies and portable heaters, at this “stabilisation point” in the Donetsk region, where battles are fierce.

Viktor poses for a picture inside the operation room where medics treat war wounds, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

“The wounded are brought here, we provide treatment, stabilise them and restore vital functions, and send (them) to the next stage of evacuation - to hospitals,” said Viktor, who declined to give his full name.

Describing the feeling of being unable to save a life, Viktor, a gynaecologist before the war, said: “It’s the worst thing you can imagine.”

The number of patients brought in - up to 25 per day - has risen sharply over the past two weeks, he said, the vast majority wounded by shrapnel.

Medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

But bullet wounds are becoming more frequent, a sign that fighting is increasingly at close quarters.

Evacuating soldiers from the frontline, via one of the team’s five drivers, usually takes between 20 and 40 minutes, but the wounded sometimes find themselves waiting up to two hours if fighting doesn’t let up.

That was the case on a recent day in late February, when soldiers Ruslan and Serhiy were brought in for treatment at the heavily sandbagged facility after being fired on by a Russian tank.

Medics place a wounded Ukrainian soldier in an emergency vehicle to transport him to a hospital, outside the frontline stabilisation point near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Neither had life-threatening injuries, though Ruslan’s right foot was mangled. Viktor’s team, which belongs to the 72nd Mechanized Brigade, believes he bore the brunt of the hit, helping ensure Serhiy walked away with only a broken arm.

Adrenaline helps keep the medical team going and enables them to cope with the almost constant flow of wounded soldiers, including some Russians who are later exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners.

“This is our job,” said Viktor from inside their outpost, which is festooned with Ukrainian flags and drawings and thank-you notes from children across the country.

“We know what we signed up for.”


















REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A wounded Ukrainian soldier sits on the operation table near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers in the operation room near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A wounded Ukrainian soldier holds his belt in the operation room near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

General practitioner Volodymyr assists a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Blood and mud marks the floor next to a pair of boots and the helmet of a wounded Ukrainian soldier, who is being treated in the operating room near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers in the operating room near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

General practitioner Volodymyr (L) and general surgeon Yuri treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier in the operation room of a frontline stabilisation point near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

General surgeon Yuri assists a wounded Ukrainian soldier near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics place a wounded Ukrainian soldier on a table near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics are seen in a surveillance monitor as they bring patients inside the frontline stabilisation point, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Olha, a health instructor, poses for a picture in a frontline stabilisation point, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Volodymyr, a general practitioner in a frontline stabilisation point, poses for a picture inside the operation room, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Yuri, a general surgeon, poses for a picture in a frontline stabilisation point, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Ruslan, an intensive care surgeon in a frontline stabilisation point, poses for a picture inside the operation room, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics sit in front of the 72nd Mechanized Brigade’s flag, which reads “Glory to Ukraine”, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023. Both the medics and wounded soldiers at the stabilisation point are part of the 72nd Mechanized Brigade, a division of the Ukrainian ground forces.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Drawings made by children hang on the wall inside a frontline stabilisation point, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Viktor reacts inside the operation room, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Medics carry a wounded Ukrainian soldier on a stretcher to transport him to a hospital, outside the frontline stabilisation point near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A wounded Ukrainian soldier enters an emergency vehicle before heading to a hospital, near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Bloody stretchers are seen outside the frontline stabilisation point near Vuhledar, Ukraine, February 19, 2023.

The Wider Image

Photography: Marko Djurica

Reporting: Marko Djurica and Yiming Woo

Writing: Dan Peleschuk

Photo editing: Eve Watling and Marta Montana

Text editing: Timothy Heritage and Frank Jack Daniel

Design: Eve Watling



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