Kyiv, October 29, 2015. The Patriot Defence NGO has distributed 20 thousand NATO-standard individual first-aid kits (IFAK) to Ukrainian servicemen, said Dr. Ulana Suprun, founder and director of Patriot Defence, Director of Humanitarian Initiatives of the Ukrainian World Congress, MD at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The humanitarian initiative to supply NATO-standard IFAKs and to teach combat medicine to servicemen started in May 2014. “Since then over 24 thousand troops have been trained, over 20 thousand IFAKs have been supplied, over two and a half thousand cadets of military institutions and academies all across Ukraine have been trained,” said Ulana Suprun. According to her over 20 Ukrainian instructors are involved in the initiative as well as eight coordinators that are organizing the training and a large team of volunteers who are packing the IFAKs. Additionally there are courses for military medics and a training course for civil medics supported by a grant program by the Canadian government.
The Soviet system of medical education never aimed at saving the life of each injured person, says Dr. Oleksandr Linchevskyi, Medical Director of Patriot Defence, surgeon at the no.17 Kyiv City Clinical Hospital. A number of sanitary casualties in case of both civil and military trauma were admitted, this is completely different from modern Western practice. “We challenge severe injuries leading to fatalities, we actually challenge the military traumas and by providing the IFAKs, by training the servicemen we are trying to save each wounded,” emphasized the surgeon.
Ihor Simutin, senior instructor at Patriot Defence NGO said that one of the basic principles is “we never start the training until we are sure that we have enough time for it. Enough time is for the last serviceman to get trained,” noted the instructor having added that the training takes two – two and a half days. Moreover Patriot Defence never gives an IFAK to a serviceman that has not undergone the training course. “It is not the IFAK that is saving lives but skills and an individual,” he quoted the motto of the medic activists. That is why they take training of troops so seriously. “An IFAK is like a bag with some elements that can save a life in case of combat injuries and it is expensive but is worth nothing if an individual takes it and has not been trained how to use it,” in such a way they explain to the armed forces why such a training course is mandatory to servicemen in training camps and in ATO zone. On the first day instructors present general skills, on the second day they change the conditions to practice the situations that seem simple to the servicemen at the first glance, explained Smutin. Activists want the Ukrainian Armed Forces to realize that it is not only about arming the troops or providing an IFAK to a serviceman but about the complete change to training approach.
IFAKs help save lives on the battlefield through its four main components: hemostatic agent, airway tube when a person is unconscious, chest seal after the injury is discovered, changing a tourniquet to dressing, while without a proper application it is not to produce a required effect, the instructors explained in a video that was demonstrated. Speakers also called on servicemen to pass over unused IFAKs so that they do not remain idle but help save lives on the frontline.
Marko Suprun, Patriot Defence founder and co-founder of Ukrainian short film producers’ association Babylon’13 said that they themselves handed over the 20,000th IFAK to the frontline while conducting a training session there. It was handed over to servicemen of “Karpatska Sich” assault company of the 93rd brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. “One of the insights that came during that training session is they protect themselves, they protect Ukraine and keep building the Ukrainian state,” said Marko Suprun.
The speakers said that they plan to continue distributing NATO-standard IFAKs to Ukrainian servicemen as well as continue training the servicemen and graduates of military universities. The activists are negotiating with the university management to have such course introduced as mandatory part of the curriculum.