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Rom A. Stevens, MD, FCCM, and Robert Kerr, MD, were planning to spend this past April sailing off the west coast of Alaska. The two retired Navy captains were looking forward to a relaxing escape, ready to soak in the breathtaking scenery of the last frontier. Instead, they found themselves in war-torn Ukraine, trying desperately to aid a country being decimated by ongoing Russian invasions.
“Ukrainian soldiers are giving their lives for our shared democratic values,” Dr. Stevens said. “We couldn’t go on vacation when people were dying, particularly when we had skills that could help save lives.” Dr. Stevens spent 36 years in the military and served, along with Dr. Kerr, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. During that time, Dr. Stevens was deployed to Ukraine. As deputy surgeon for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, he participated in the exercise Sea Breeze, a multinational exercise with the Ukrainian Navy that allowed him to visit one of the country’s medical clinical centers and talk with hospital staff.
“I went there because I had contacts in the hospital in L’viv, and Ukrainians were shipping a lot of their casualties from the Donbas front west to L’viv,” Dr. Stevens said. “We’d been in war zones before, and we knew the risks. We did not feel our security was threatened; in fact, we felt we were quite safe, but not all U.S. medical personnel would be able to make that determination.”
By April 7, more than 100 Ukrainian healthcare facilities and transport vehicles were attacked.1 Those conflicts primarily occurred near the capital city of Kyiv, around Kharkiv, in the Donbas, and in the south near Kherson and Mykolaiv. L’viv, located more than 300 miles west of Kyiv, remained mostly untouched, Dr. Stevens said. “The hospitals in the eastern part of the country didn’t have resources,” he said. “Kyiv was never fully cut off from the rest of the country, so they were shipping patients by train to L’viv, where there was more capacity in teaching hospitals.”
Posted: 11/21/2022 | 0 comments
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