The military ambulance coated with clayey mud brakes and stops at the crossroads that have become an evacuation and transfer point for the wounded coming from the combat front. Night has fallen and the darkness is so deep that you could cut with a knife, until the rear door of the vehicle opens and illuminates the darkness where any light in sight is a danger because it announces the position of the Ukrainian troops in Chasiv Yara few kilometers from Bajmut, where missiles, artillery and Russian drones do not want to leave a puppet with a headwithout caring if those who are in their peephole are military, civilians or wounded.
The civilian ambulance waiting for them does the same and the nurses and doctors from both vehicles begin the frenzied operation. Every minute counts and can be the difference between life and death for your patients. The first soldier wounded in the chest is lying unconscious on a stretcher covered with a gold-colored emergency thermal blanket. One of his arms dangles limp, limp. He is placed inside while a military medic checks his vital signs. The second wounded is awake and screams when touched. The Russian shrapnel has destroyed an arm and a leg.
The soldier tries to keep his head up while the nurses carry him by the arms, but the pain is too intense and he cannot avoid another scream, which multiplies when they load him into the ambulance that will take him to Kostiantynivka hospital, located several kilometers through bad roads full of potholes and holes. Another ordeal. The wounded man sits down, there is no room for more, looking beyond this world, stunned by the physical ordeal, while the damage and grief before his torn body they escape from his mouth again.
When the civilian ambulance leaves, a nurse cleans the back of the military one with a broom. Blood-soaked medical waste falls to the ground as her partner, a young soldier, but with features aged before her time, can’t take it anymore. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” he screams with a broken voice letting out a few tears of pure rage. A colleague of hers hugs her, but she stirs and yells something unintelligible, surely remembering the mothers of the soldiers of the Russian Army of Aggression.
“We go into a trance”
“The worst of all is when soldiers die on the way to the hospital, especially if they are very young”explains Dr Alexander, a native of Dontesk, whose call sign is Astral “because there is nothing more beautiful than the starry sky”, serving in the 38th Battalion of the National Guard stationed in Kostiantynivka, which has been rescuing the wounded from the Bakhmut front for six months. “I still have the graven face of an 18-year-old soldier with a smashed head and who we couldn’t save.”
“I studied at the Military Academy and at the University of Medicine. I have been working as a combat medic for three years”, Add. Regarding his daily work, he explains that they literally live from hour to hour. “We are always on call, so we never know what will happen from one moment to the next. Sometimes everything is calm until suddenly the frenzy breaks out and you have to run to the front. Our unit has doctors and the rest are nurses, health workers, drivers and support troops”.
The Battle of Bakhmut, as well as all the neighboring cities that are suffering from Russian bombardments, increase the number of victims every day. But Battalion 38 is a mobile hospital that, for the moment, it has “sufficient equipment and medicines, so we cannot complain in that regard. Furthermore, if we lack food, civil volunteers always come to our aid”.
Do you fear for your life when evacuations are carried out? “I don’t feel scared at work. It’s like I’m on autopilot and I only think about the task in front of me. In rescuing the injured, stabilizing him and making him arrive alive at the medical center. It is as if we went into a trance ”, she assures. “Sometimes we are like robots,” confirms Artem, alias Borjomi, sitting next to him under various drawings on the wall made by Ukrainian children and included in aid packages.
“Now all of them are like our children. Yours is a great support. Sometimes we look at them and they make us smile. Those drawings are a ray of hope that gives you strength and reason to keep going. Some have even become postcards,” he explains, showing a wad that he keeps in his bedroom on which the minors have drawn undamaged houses on green meadows, soldiers with flags, hearts painted in the blue and yellow of the country’s banner, peaceful landscapes and, above all, small messages of encouragement: “I hope you are all well. He come home alive. You are our heroes. Slava Ukraine! (Glory to Ukraine!)”, reads one of them.
Do you have any kind of psychological assistance? “In the unit we do not have specialists of this type. We help and support each other”Alexander explains. “The Internet helps a lot,” Artem injects, while the rest of the toilets present nod and laugh. “When we go back to base, we spend a lot of our time connecting with our families, or seeing things that distract us and take us away from this place, even if only for a few minutes,” he concludes.
Thanks to the satellite connection system starlinkthe window open to the world and their loved ones has become a fundamental support so that, after a day of horror, entrails on the ground, amputated limbs and mangled bodies of an entire generation committed to war, can get on with their task without losing their heads. To find a real angel you don’t need to read about them in Holy Scripture. One only has to come to the front lines of Donbas and see the highly dangerous work and selfless devotion of combat medics, Bakhmut’s battle angels.