Military medics of Ukraine
Serhii Tsisaryuk
Chief of Communications of the Mariupol Defense Headquarters

“In the middle of March last year in Mariupol, I was seriously wounded in the stomach and leg, the enemy’s aviation carried out about 100 (!) raids on the city that day. After all, the enemy felt practically unpunished in the sky above Mariupol: we had nothing to shoot down his planes and helicopters. Therefore, daily massive (almost every five minutes) airstrikes were common practice. At a certain point, I decided to ignore them: you can’t wait out all the bombings in the shelter, and I had to do my job. That’s right, I went to one of the command posts and came under bombardment: a Su-24 fighter dropped a 250-kilogram high-explosive aerial bomb (FAG) near the place where I was.

Serhii was sent to hospital 555.

“At the 555th military hospital, it was still working then. There, I was anesthetized and operated on. The doctors performed their work very well. I sincerely thank them for this. Not far from the hospital was the “Neptune” pool, in which many civilians were hiding at that time. The next day, Russian aircraft struck the Neptune. Many people who were there were killed or injured. The wounded began to be taken to the military hospital, because it was the nearest hospital from that place. About half an hour passed, and the enemy plane also bombed the hospital. The doctor then told me that at that time in the operating room they were helping several people who had been taken from the bombed-out swimming pool. All of them died already in the operating room.

Due to the fact that the hospital was overcrowded. I was placed after the operation in the corridor. If I had been in the ward, I would probably have died. And so, the door of the ward was torn from its fastening by an explosive wave and they covered me, taking on themselves the blows of concrete fragments that flew from the walls and ceiling.

– Were you very scared then?

– No, not too much. It was much more frightening then to fly on a rotorcraft over the occupied territory.

— It turns out, you were lucky to survive twice in two days. When you heard that they would try to evacuate the wounded from Mariupol by air bridge, did you believe in the reality of this plan?

– To be honest, not very much. I will tell you about the evacuation in order. From the bombed-out hospital I was taken to Azovstal. One day, we, the wounded, were told that military helicopters would try to break into Mariupol from behind the front line, and this would give us a chance to evacuate. A date was given when this could happen. But the helicopters did not arrive that day. Like I said, we doubted it was even possible. So when they announced again that the planes would arrive tomorrow, I did not believe that they would be able to break through to us, because I knew well the operational situation around Mariupol. Fortunately, my pessimistic prediction did not come true. It is because of this—the evacuation—that I am speaking to you now. Because if I had stayed at Azovstal, I definitely would not have survived: injuries were severe, and it was very, very difficult to get medicines there.

— How was the evacuation by helicopters carried out?

— The wounded were woken up at 4 in the morning. They were taken to the site on the territory of “Azovstal”. They waited there until 6:40 (I remember everything well, because during that time there were four artillery shells on the territory of the plant, plus 4 airstrikes). We were lying in the back of the car in the open air. And here came the helicopters! I didn’t believe that they were ours until they landed. Quickly uploaded the supplies, loaded us and flew. The flight felt like a roller coaster – it was thrown in all directions. When we sat down to refuel in Zaporizhzhia, I understood: everything is OK, we broke through”