Back from the front, two French doctors explain their daily lives

Arsenic presents himself as a Franco-Ukrainian. It is not the first time to help Ukraine. This 32-year-old anesthesiologist living in Lille, asked to get as close as possible to the battles to help the Ukrainian soldiers. That is why he has just stayed in Bakhmut in Donbas for three weeks. No strategic interest, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has been knocking for weeks. Today, this is one of the deadliest fronts of the war; all in a setting worthy of Verdun.

“That was my first impression when I saw the soldiers coming”, he tells RTL. “They had five or six layers of clothes on to protect them from the cold and dampness. They had three to five kilos of mud on each leg. Mud up to the middle of the thigh. It’s a miserable state of hygiene, very difficult conditions with mud, dampness, rats and dead bodies.”

Battles in Bakhmut are fierce and casualties are heavy. “The vast majority were injured by shrapnel or mortar shells. That’s 90% of the injured, and the remaining 10% were injuries related to shock waves from artillery fire.”Lille believes.

“We are constantly under fire”

Arsen and his colleagues are there to stabilize these wounded (“so they don’t die within an hour,” the anesthesiologist explains) and then evacuate them to hospitals far from the front. Everyday life is dangerous. As Arsene explains, fire happens every day: we are constantly under fire when we have to leave the medical center to fetch equipment or transport patients. When we’re in a building, we have the illusion of safety because we’re between four walls, but we know very well that if something falls next to it, it can flatten the wall and debris goes everywhere.

The only “good” news on the Bachmouth front is that there are no power or water issues. Military posts have generators and cisterns that allow them to be fully autonomous.

Quentin, 26, doctor in Mykolaiv

Devastation in Mykolaiv

Credit: Quentin platform

On the other hand, in Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, the energy situation is quite different. There, the city is bombed almost every day, there is no water for months, and power outages are becoming more and more frequent. It is under these conditions Quentin, 26 years old. This Toulouse cardiologist trainee He spent only 15 days in one of Mykolaiv’s hospitals.

“I’m in the anesthesia-resuscitation department, and they don’t have a cardiologist on the floor who does ultrasound examinations of the heart, so I help them a lot with such examinations.” explains. Quentin also helps out in the operating room and whatever else he can be useful for. He also admits that he served as a psychologist for his Ukrainian colleagues who experienced the horror for about 10 months.

Mykolaiv hospital was plunged into darkness

Mykolaiv hospital was plunged into darkness

Credit: Quentin platform

“I identify with these young people who are struggling”

“What’s especially difficult for them is being away from their families.” he said. “My boss, for example, hasn’t seen his wife or daughter for nine months. That’s why he sometimes sleeps in his daughter’s room in his apartment without lights. There is a young surgeon, Youri, who paints very well. He explained. He told me that his father was an art professor in Moscow, but since the war that they don’t talk to each other.

Quentin is deeply moved by the courage and humanity of his Ukrainian colleagues. He does not regret for a second that he came to help. “I am 26 years old, I identified with these young people who have been fighting for more than 9 months”, explains. “And I said to myself that if I can alleviate their suffering a little medically, I should do it. Then, from a military point of view, I am also a reserve in the foreign legion.”

“They don’t have much, but they work wonders”

Mykolayov hospital

Mykolayov hospital

Credit: Quentin platform

In Ukraine, Quentin also learns to work without electricity and with little material. “They don’t have much, but they work wonders,” believes “In France, for example, syringes are disposable. We use them once and throw them away. Well, we use them on the patient and stick the syringe on the patient’s bed so we can use it again. The same patient. There, too, the authorities asked us to deprogram the operations because they were afraid of cuts. During the day, we work with daylight, and in the evening, we use the light of our phone.”

Quentin and Arsene will soon return to France with the desire to return to Ukraine.

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