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    Posted March 6, 2014 by
    Kiev, Ukraine
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Ukraine unrest

    MaiaKiev and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Ukraine crisis as it unfolds
    More from MaiaKiev

    Ukraine is Praying for Peace, Preparing for War


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     MaiaKiev attended medic training on March 6 after hearing about the course on television. "My 15-year-old daughter saw it and wanted to sign up but the groups were already fully booked two weeks in advance. They told us to call back in two weeks," she said. She previously penned this piece about the Ukraine-Russia conflict for CNN.com.
    - rachel8, CNN iReport producer

    Ukrainians don’t share the optimism of foreign diplomats regarding Crimean situation. While Russian officials get engaged in various international meetings and give an impression of being somewhat constructive and copperative, Russian troops in Crimea continue blocking Ukrainians military bases and overall behaving as invaders who have already conquered the territory.


    Meanwhile Crimean Parliament announced today their decision to join Russia, moving up the date for referendum on that issue from March 30th to 16th. Needless to say, both that decision and referendum itself are in violation of Ukrainian Constitution. It’s obvious the situation in Crimea is about to go to the next level of tension.


    People all over Ukraine pray for peace, but prepare for war. Military drafting offices are crowded by volunteers. In Kharkov, Donetsk and Kiev the largest private clinic Boris opened training courses for those who are willing to serve as volunteer medics if it comes to war.


    Within 3 days more than 6,000 people signed up for the course. Daily 6 groups (on average 25 people in each group) come through this training.


    I asked a few people why they signed up and everybody was saying that they wanted to be prepared for the war. Irina said that she saw terrible things on Maidan on Feb 18-20th when so many people were killed and injured by riot police. She felt very helpless then, she didn’t know how she could do anything for the wounded. Irina is hoping she wouldn’t have to use the skills she would be learning today, but she wants to be ready. Mother and daughter, Larisa and Julia, said that their husbands went to the military drafting office today while they came here. They said if the war starts they wouldn’t leave Ukraine and stay here and do whatever they can in this war against Russian aggressors.


    The training itself was not your traditional first aid skills training. The focus was clearly on medical help under gunfire on battlefield: carrying, assessing and sorting the wounded, providing first basic help for bullet wounds, limbs torn off by explosions, thermal and chemical burns. As trainees were listening to various hypothetical scenarios and instructions for their actions their eyes were widening in horror as they were imagining themselves in those situations. Victor said that even though this was depressingly sobering experience, he felt that he would be hopefully less shocked when time comes for him to help medics in the war.


    Right now four doctors of Boris clinic volunteered to teach these medical courses. Each one of them spends 6 hours of their free time doing that. Mykhailo Omelchuk, the Head of ER of Brois clinic, one of the volunteer instructors said that he was pleasantly surprised and very impressed that so many people were showing civil responsibility and ready to help medics if it comes to war.


    Another volunteer instructor, Igor, medical student said that he was hoping that these skills that people were currently trained in would not be ever needed. He is dreaming that very soon when the threat of war passes the clinic would start similar free medical first aid training so that our citizens can help each other in situations of medical emergency, but not the kind that involve bullets and explosions.


    The instructors thanked their trainees for their willingness to serve Ukraine in such a way. Trainees in turn, many with tears in their eyes, expressed appreciation for doctors’ sacrificial service. I felt deep respect for these heroes of Ukraine who put aside their usual lives and made decision to give themselves to protecting our beloved country in whatever way they could!

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