АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Mariia Orletska
12 July 2022
Since 2019, Kateryna Halyshka has been providing medical assistance to wounded soldiers in hot spots. Working in such conditions has desensitized her. All the time I think only about what you have to do to save a person’s life as you think that there is a loved one waiting for him somewhere at home. Comrades could not save the life of her beloved one …
I was born in the Poltava region and have been living for the past 9 years in Kyiv. A long time ago, I took part in projects that cooperated with the UN and NGOs on the issue of internally displaced persons, women and refugees. I earned my degree in History at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Later, I finished my Master’s degree and received a second education at the Institute of State Security in the field of State Security. My dream was to work at the UN and reach the international level. However, the war changed my plan three months ago. A year and a half ago I started working at the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a public official and planned to continue that and build my career there. Partially, I still dream of it.
I also worked at the All-Ukrainian initiative the “Active Community” as a communicator and helped to build an active society capable of creating changes in the country, which is very important for us now after 2014.
I was fond of history and architecture. I travelled around the world, got to know different cultures. I cherished art house and modern Ukrainian literature which now give me power and motivation. I wished to get married to a loving husband, build a family and have a nice house.
No matter how it sounds, I had a great time on February 24th. From 9pm on February 23th, I had a long conversation with Anton, he was playing the guitar, I listened to it, and he sang. I was smiling. We talked about everyday things, laughed a lot. We planned to meet so he could tell me over a bottle of wine why he liked me. And we did so until two o’clock in the morning. I fell asleep peacefully, because I was fine, he was fine, everyone was fine.
On February 24th , between 4:40 and 5:00 am, my sisters Runa and Mishka called. “You’re not sleeping, are you?”. I was surprised because – why the hell should I be up so early? “There are explosions in Kyiv. Kate, the war is here. Get up and pack your stuff”.
I took my phone and there was a message from Anton: “It has started”. I realized what happened and called my friends: Vitia, Vania and Vita. I said, “It has begun.” I called my parents. I called at work. I got dressed. I put the backpacks into the corridor, which I later took with me so as not to return home.
“Take care of yourself,” said Anton. I went to work between 5 and 6 am on February 24th.
“Be careful. Love you,” – we exchanged with friends. And I went down to the basement, it was the first air raid in my life.
I wish I could close my eyes, go back in time when Anton was singing to me and I heartily laughed. When my friends and I were planning to visit a new restaurant with its cuisine. When I could take my parents on an excursion or think if a play would be interesting to which my mother bought tickets. When my friends were safe, but not on the front line. When the walls of my bedroom wouldn’t be shaking because of explosions. When my close acquaintance wouldn’t write to me from Mariupol: “ We have so little strength, but we are holding on to the end.”
“In 2019 I joined “Hospitaller”. It is a Ukrainian volunteer medical battalion. I underwent a 7-day course in tactical medicine with training as close as possible to combat operations”.
Later I went on my first rotation. Every time I happened to be in different groups. Now I am working in a team, our main objective is to evacuate the wounded from the battlefields. We also give first aid, take the wounded to the second line, which is safe, and transfer them to another medical group. They administe fluids to injured soldiers, other drugs and transfer them onto the third stage – hospitalization.
In the course of my work, I control massive bleeding. If it is an amputation, then I try to stop any possible bleeding where it can flow out, control the patency of the respiratory tract so that the person can breathe and still be conscious.
Working in such conditions has desensitized me. All the time I think only about the work you have to do to save a person’s life. Once I had to take out four wounded people at once. This was already a heavy load, and the situation was complicated by the road. We were under fire almost all the time, the car was driven at full speed, and I somehow still had to work with the wounded and provide them with help, control the bleeding. I returned from this task tense, almost hysterical.
Imagine you are working, and a mortar is flying nearby. In these conditions, you have to overcome yourself and not get scared, not feel fear, embarrassment, but simply remain a person with a cool head and complete the task. After returning, I sat down, lit a cigarette and thought: “Katia, you can work in such shitty conditions (because objectively it is true) and at the same time save people, bring them absolutely alive!” Although, it seemed that I could definitely lose one of them as I was alone and my attention was scattered between them.
There was also an emotionally difficult situation with one wounded person. It was not severe, but rather a moderate injury. He was very similar to Anton. To my Anton. He had a similar injury, and all the time I was driving, I was thinking about my beloved. I was worried if I could save this person. Because they couldn’t save Anton…
There were constant thoughts in my head that his family and loved ones were waiting for him at home. And I didn’t want her to feel the pain of loss. I know he survived. And I am happy that my work allows me to do everything possible so that as few women as possible feel the pain of losing the man you love. The loss and pain that I went through.
Anton Gevak aka “Perun”. He was only 27. He joined the army in 2012, then joined the special purpose regiment. In 2014, he went to war.
Later, he entered the Odesa Military Academy, where he studied and took a course of advanced training. During his studies, he decided that he wanted to join the marines, and when he graduated, he was assigned to a certain unit. He was a platoon commander in the 140th separate battalion. He loved his work, he was an officer who highly values what he did. Anton wanted to build a career in the military sector.
He had a dream that he would fulfill his contract and move to another city. He considered the option of Kyiv. I wanted to start working there in the military structure, but already in the rear. He liked to play the guitar, composing music and songs. He loved reading , especially the Scandinavian philosophy “The Way of the Warrior” which was similar to his way. He liked to meditate and travel to places which he called places of power, where you can feel unity with nature.
I learned about his death from a girl who was a paramedic in his unit. She wrote it to me. Taking advantage of my official position, I had the opportunity to ask questions, and the command informed me that this was true.
I never believed in otherworldly things, but… The day before, he had a dream and told me that he had completed his combat mission and was returning. But he was aloof, cold and distant. I woke up and thought that he would be in touch soon. But on March 10, they reported his death. He died in battle.
They were going to break through to Mariupol, which was almost surrounded by that time, and met an enemy column. He knocked over a tank. By the way, on the day of his death, he fulfilled his dream of shooting with Javelin and NLAW.
Anton knocked out an enemy vehicle with a shot from the NLAW, the column of invaders stopped and the Russian infantry began to work. He was hit by a machine gun bullet. He did not die immediately, I later learned from other soldiers that he was alive for a long time. If it was not such a fierce battle and the conditions, there was a paramedic or a medic nearby who provided timely help, he would have survived. As his comrades told me, the last thing Anton told them was: “Ohh boys, I’m going to Valhalla.” He believed in it.
On February 23th, when I talked to him, he told me: “You know, today I saw ravens, and these ravens are messengers who told me that a great battle is ahead of me”.
I miss him very much. He believed in me and called me “Valkyrie”. He said that I can handle everything. And now, no matter how hard it is, I remember Anton’s words and my promise to him: survive! And this promise, the feeling of his presence and invisible protection when I go on a mission, keeps me spirited. This is what keeps me fighting.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Mariia Orletska