Military medics of Ukraine
Olena Biyovska
Операційна сестра

On February 22, we were gatheredby alarm. And we have already started living in the hospital, without going home. We had barracks regime. But no information was given that there would be an invasion. It all started on February 24, and it was very intense. We had to be ready to receive wounded patients. Therefore, from February 24, an intensive reception of wounded soldiers, civilians, adults, and children began. And we started to provide help to everyone. How did we start working? Very cohesive. This adrenaline… We had one operating room and two operating rooms: a smaller one (with one table) and a larger one (with two tables). In general, we have a two-stored building, so they began to open operating rooms on the first floor. So we had 4 operating theaters and another intensive care ward, where we took difficult patients already after surgery. And the rest of the patients are sent to the surgical department for nursing care. It was just a colossal amount of work. There were a lot of wounded. We didn’t count for sure, but it was more than 40 wounded in a day. And mostly these were severe wounds – mine-explosive injuries, limb amputations, wounds to the stomach, chest, and head. It was something terrible. When there was a second and the girls and I could talk somewhere, we had the impression that they just wanted to drown us in blood. There were so many wounded and the amount of work was so terrible that it is simply impossible to describe in words. But everyone worked very, very unitedly. Each of us knew his scope of work and everything was done very quickly. The hospital has not very wide corridors, not very large rooms, but there was a huge number of people there. And everything had to be done quickly – bring it in, take it out, put it down, place it, pick it up. The team is just great. There were more than 100 people from the hospital. From the surgical staff with the anesthesiology service, with nurses and doctors – somewhere up to 40 people. Civilian doctors also joined us. They came from different hospitals and helped us. They helped a lot. These are nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists. However, there were not enough hands because there were many operating tables. We needed more doctors and nurses than we had. I don’t remember the exact date when it happened, it was sometime after March 10. A bomb hit the hospital building. The intensive care unit was completely destroyed. When I walked down the corridor and, for example, opened the door where we had a dormitory, there was just a street behind the door. That is, there were no offices at all on one side. It was awful. And then a decision was made to evacuate the personnel and the wounded to the Azovstal and Illich factories. In particular, an aerial bomb was dropped in front of the main entrance to the surgical building. And we got the impression that they really knew where the hospital was. And people simply have nothing sacred. That’s all. The bodies of the fallen soldiers came and were taken away by the representatives of the units. And the civilians were taken away by their relatives. Why was it decided to split up and go to two factories? This decision was made after the bomb destructed the hospital.

In order not to risk either the personnel or the injured. So that no one dies. How did this distribution happen? It happened by itself. They just decided among themselves, I’m going there, and I’m going there. That is, it was done without thinking, it had to be done as soon as possible. We shipped the equipment that will be used to work, collected medicines, materials, and tools.

In the operating room where I worked, the windows were covered with sandbags. But during one of the operations, a bomb fell and they flew away, all the tools and materials were in the glass. Everything was thrown up by the blast wave.

In such conditions, we gathered and left for the plant.

On April 12, 2022, Olena was captured by the Russians. And spent more than six months there. On October 17, 2022, she returned home as part of the prisoner exchange.