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  • Writer's pictureOleksiy

"Austriyka" The Bakhmut evacuation bus

The Hospitallers team is in Pavlohrad. The unit is set up in a former clinic converted into a dormitory and living area for this unit. They do not have a fixed schedule and operate through radio alerts. At 9:50 am, they receive an extraction request. The team prepares, and 15 minutes after the radio call, the bus sets off.

It was named "Austriyka" in memory of Natalya Fraucher, who died in a bus accident at the end of June last year.

"Austriyka" evacuation bus

The team consists of 4 nurses, all volunteers who come here for periods of 15 days, and their time here is taken from their free time. They all work in private or public medical settings. Two stretcher carrier complete the team, along with the bus driver.

The bus is well-equipped, can carry 6 lying wounded and 4 seated wounded, and has essential resuscitation and stabilization equipment. "We need more buses like this," confides Katia, the head nurse, an anesthesiologist at a children's hospital in Kiev. Around 11:30 am, bus arrive at the extraction zone, to the west of Pokrovsk. 15 minutes later, the first ambulance arrives with 4 wounded on board. 2 other ambulances will follow, with a total of 8 wounded to be evacuated. Some are in critical condition!

All of them were still in combat the day before in Bakhmut. The evacuation tempo is quite fast and is organized by well-defined steps: first aid under fire, evacuation to cover, and care by the group or section's medical evacuation unit, with a variable duration ranging from a few minutes to several hours. A medical team triages the wounded (according to the degree of urgency) and proceeds to evacuate them to a hospital with an emergency surgical team.

"Austriyka" evacuation bus

This is where the first emergency diagnoses and treatments are given, including surgery. The most severe cases are evacuated urgently and without delay, while the others are rotated to the point where the ambulances arrived.

Yuri, a 41-year-old soldier in an assault company, had just stepped out of the ambulance with a cigarette in his mouth. He said, "It's a beautiful day."

He joined the army in February 2022, first in a territorial brigade before being assigned to an assault brigade. He said, "I have good self-control, so I often go to positions where others don't want to go. Many people are afraid, but I'm not. We support those who are afraid because fear cannot be controlled. It's a matter of honor, not manhood." We were under fire for 8 days without a break. It was hell!”

“When I was injured, I received injections of painkillers, and I was in a daze. But as the effects wore off, my first visions were of those fights, and my ears heard only that as I was being evacuated. It was a mine that exploded next to me, and my rifle partially received the impacts, which is why my hand remained attached to my arm. His hand was stabilized with a metal pin before being evacuated today. He hopes to regain the use of his hand and perhaps return to his pre-war profession as a cameraman.” Oleg originating from the Chernihiv region, Oleg volunteered on February 24 last year in the infantry, where he was first a guard at a checkpoint. Married with two children, a 22-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter.

Last year, during the Russian occupation of Boucha, I was not yet in the Ukrainian army. When the Russian forces entered Boucha, my house was hit by rocket fire.

For the past three months, he has been on the front line in Bakhmut. The day before, he was injured in Bilogorivka, in the Luhansk region, while his unit was under heavy rocket or bomb fire. He was injured in his right hand, leg, and head from the explosion.

"Austriyka" evacuation bus

Yaroslav, 36, was injured in Bakhmut. During the explosion, he lost consciousness and when he came to, he was alone, with no one around him. He just shouted "Glory to Ukraine" to let others know he was still alive.

“I took off my protective clothing and ammunition. I walked a few dozen meters and then fell. One of my colleagues came to get me and took me back to safety. I didn't know what had happened. I didn't even have the reflex to use my tourniquet. I was in shock. I don't remember how I was evacuated, but later I was in an ambulance headed to the hospital.”

"Austriyka" evacuation bus

During the journey, the medical team stabilizes the most serious cases and communicates with the hospital in Dnipro to prepare for their arrival. It's a well-oiled medical chain, where every moment, every minute counts to save lives.

For the next evacuation, the bus will be cleaned, disinfected, and refurbished as soon as it leaves the hospital, waiting for a new radio.

"Austriyka" evacuation bus
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