Teaching 86 war doctors in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

86 more Ukrainian doctors are now armed with trauma surgery skills that will help them improve the care they give to victims injured on the frontline. In partnership with UOSSM International, our trainers upskilled both surgeons and anaesthetists in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.

Despite over two years of conflict, many doctors in Ukraine are still facing horrifying injuries – and many they were not trained to treat during standard medical training. War inflicts incomprehensible injuries on those it meets. Shrapnel can tear through multiple parts of the body and it’s a medical team’s job to identify which injury needs treating first. This is done by carrying out damage control to find and reduce sources of bleeding before repairs can take place. Under pressure, this isn’t an easy feat but are vital skills that we teach – alongside guidance on how to stay calm and focused – on our course.

The long road

It’s not just immediate care that doctors need to be trained in. War wounds often require months, sometimes years, of rehabilitation and additional surgeries. Our team visited the Superhuman Center in Vynnyky, Lviv, an outstanding facility supporting adults and children who have lost limbs in the war.  It is facilities like these, and training like ours, that help doctors carry out amputations in such a way that the victims will recover well or receive prosthetics when the time comes.

Nick Cartwright, our Programmes Manager who led this course and visited facilities at both Superhuman and Unbroken, said:

“There’s a lot of a hardship in Ukraine today, but a lot of hope. There’s a strong desire for our training – Ukrainian doctors want to know they are doing absolutely everything they can for those injured in their communities. Having now upskilled nearly 600 doctors in Ukraine, the country’s healthcare systems are getting stronger, despite the ongoing pressures of war.”

Frontline stories

We interviewed a number of doctors who took our surgical and anaesthesia courses in Vinnytsia. It’s their experiences that drive us to keep going back to new cities, spreading trauma surgery knowledge further across the country.

“People were burning”

“When the war started we had a lot of humanitarian aid it was so helpful. But we still need it – the war hasn’t finished. This course is so helpful and interesting – there’s a lot of information and practical skills. Many things were new for me. It’s great that I now have new skills and knowledge.

I have some experience of war wounds since the war. We’ve had attacks here in Vinnytsia, a lot people were injured. People were burning, some had head injuries, they came to our emergency hospital. I also volunteered in places like Donbass.

The biggest attack here was on the 14th of July. A lot of people were killed, children. It was hard because we didn’t prepare for this. On this course, we saw a video of how colleagues work in an emergency situation. We have some things we need to change on how we will work in an emergency.

I want to tell the world that war in Ukraine is still going on. A lot of civilian people are dying. We need help to win this war – and I hope it will be soon.” – Daria, General Surgery Resident, Vinnytsia

“I’m going to use these skills in my operations”

“I’m a civilian anaesthesiologist in a country that is under war. I’m going to use these skills in planned operations in critical care in my emergency hospital.

Since we always have a lot of patients, with many civilians, internally displaced people, and military, who have trauma wounds, we are always lacking the materials, medication and equipment. Anything we receive (including training) we always use it.” – Igor, Anaesthetist, Vinnytsia

“I hope people are kind”

“I’m a Resident of General Surgery, trying to do all I can in my specialty. I hope I will not use this knowledge (from the David Nott Foundation training) on the battlefield, but Russia is still attacking.

I have some experience of treating war injuries. We’ve had a lot of injured people and deaths. I want to bring attention to Ukrainian refugees too who are now in other countries. I hope whoever hosts them is kind to them.” – Anastasiia, General Surgery Resident, Vinnytsia

As Ukraine continues to be ravaged by war, we have made a commitment to train every Ukrainian doctor in the country. Help us achieve our goal.