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First aid to people who fled from Irpin

Illustration: #OleksandrShatokhin

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At least 5,711 civilians were injured in Ukraine as a result of the Russian aggression, and 4,597 civilians died according to the minimum estimates of the UN as of mid-June 2022. Chances of survival often depend on doctors, who have been working to the limit from the start of the Russian full-scale invasion.

Photos of the destroyed bridge connecting Irpin and Kyiv became one of the symbols of the Russian invasion. Doctor Anna arrived at the bridge on the first day of the invasion, February 24. Just a few days later, the Russian army blew it up, thus destroying the only way for civilians to leave Irpin. People had to cross the river by walking under the bridge on a self-made crossing. The Ukrainian military, volunteers, and, of course, doctors helped them in this journey. The shelling injured many people; some could not withstand the problematic journey due to concomitant diseases. Another task was to evacuate patients with reduced mobility and older people, for instance, when residents of an entire retirement home were evacuated from Irpin. 


Anna repeatedly came under fire from the Russians. Ambulances couldn’t be parked close to the bridge because as soon as the occupiers saw an ambulance, they started firing on it. So, the doctor first had to carry injured or exhausted people to the car, then take them to the nearest hospital (about 5 km away), provide the most necessary assistance there, and return to the bridge again. Brigades of doctors replaced each other to pick up the evacuees promptly. Anna drove about 200 km, transporting patients there and back each day. The connection near the bridge wasn't working well, so she never knew how "hot" it would be when she was heading back to the bridge. 


When wounded people found themselves in relative safety, they told the doctors about what they had experienced: how they buried their loved ones with their own hands, what horrors they saw. The volunteers and doctors remembered how they had to transport 54 Pomeranian dogs in one ambulance. Their owner didn’t want to evacuate at first because she didn’t know how to save the dogs, so the doctors helped the animals with their vehicle. They found new families for almost all the Pomeranian dogs during the ride.

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