By Marko Suprun, Co-founder & Coordinator, Combat Lifesaver training for Patriot Defence
Edited by Voices of Ukraine
(click on images to enlarge)
I wasn’t there.
Last week I didn’t visit a new base in the east with a group of Ukrainian medics, certified in Combat Lifesaver (CLS) training. We didn’t train them in critical lifesaving skills, run several combat and evacuation simulations, nor did we give them a few Improved First Aid Kits (IFAK).
For the moment, the base is a secret as is the unit stationed there. Ivan, one of the officers, told me that despite their efforts to dampen mobile communications they can do little to halt the flow of information. Cryptographic communication equipment would help in their protection as much as the IFAK.
The unit is tactically advanced, yet they have little to no training in life saving techniques and are minimally equipped with bandages and an old Soviet rubber tourniquet that breaks. Yuri, a member of the unit with some basic first aid training, invited us to the base through a friend of a friend to conduct the training.
There are many efforts underway to provide help to Ukraine’s patriots, yet not all are useful, despite their good intentions. A few months ago, we collected the IFAKs and gave them to a few units. They opened them and were impressed by the contents, but admitted to not knowing how to use it. We realized then, that they haven’t had the requisite training. And the training is as important if not more than the IFAK.
After speaking with people who have combat experience, we learned from them that not all training is the same. For example, EMT training is the right thing for civilian applications, but doesn’t quite fit in a combat environment. Yet, an EMT trained professional can certainly adapt their skills with Combat Lifesaver and become a huge asset to a unit deployed in the field. In other words, training the soldiers and training new trainers is what’s needed today.
Yuri told us about his brother-in-arms, Roman, who was wounded with what we understood to be a pneumothorax. He managed to hold on for a few hours, fully conscious as they waited for an evacuation that never came because of the situation. Roman talked with Yuri about his mother and family back home and how much he was looking forward to seeing them again. And then he died. After the course, Yuri was convinced that if they had the equipment in the IFAK, a decompression needle, a Halo Chest seal and the right training, things could have turned out differently.
I didn’t say good-bye to Ivan the next day when he was called into action. He told me to thank the diaspora for his IFAK and the training because now he feels that his odds of surviving this war are a little better. He said he might return home minus a limb, and that’s okay because dead men don’t need prosthetics.
I didn’t see or hear any of this because I wasn’t there. Russia has undeclared a war against Ukraine, but the wounded and the need for lifesaving training and equipment is very real.
Please support the heroic efforts of Patriot Defence volunteers working to get Improved First Aid Kits and professional NATO combat medical training into the hands of Ukrainian soldiers to save lives.