АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Nataliia Zadorozhna
1 August 2022
Yaroslav Voloshyn is from Western Ukraine, beautiful Ternopil region. Until February 24, he was a civilian doctor in Kyiv, where he has lived since 2015. Yaroslav is a surgeon-ophthalmologist by profession. He has military experience since 2014 and after russian invasion, he rushed to help the military. His team is currently helping one of the military groups. He told about his story and operations carried out on the day of the invasion to the project “Monologues of the War”.
I was enjoying my life, worked at a job I loved and was planning the future like any other person. Back then I did not understand how happy that moment was. The re-evaluation came later.
Thursday, February 24. I went to bed quite late that night. It was about 3 a.m. on the clock. Actually, on Thursdays I perform surgeries. I woke up around 7 or 8:30 a.m. to go to work and saw a lot of messages and missed calls. At that time, I lived in Obolon (Kyiv district – ed. note). I saw that my mother called me many times, so I decided to call her back. I remember how worried she was, when I didn’t pick up the phone, because a full-scale invasion began at that time, and I was unaware of it. Basically, everything started with Obolon, but I did not hear anything, because I was sleeping soundly. So, it turns out that I overslept the beginning of the war.
I can’t say that we didn’t expect it, just didn’t think about such a scale of the invasion. Back then we didn’t understand it… Our medical battalion “The Hospitallers” was prepared for a full-scale invasion, so our actions were well-considered. Absolutely everyone understood what needed to be done: who would go and where, who would contact whom, and so on. At that moment it was important to keep a cool mind.
So, I woke up, got ready and went to work. I was supposed to perform six or seven operations that day, but I only managed to do three of them. The day was extremely chaotic. We provided medical assistance to those who needed it and then in the afternoon I went to pack my suitcase.When I reached the apartment, I started to collect all the necessary things – documents, money, military uniform and then went to fulfill my duty.
When I went down to the subway to get to my destination, there were already a lot of people on the platform. They were sitting here as in a bomb shelter. I remember when the train arrived, I entered it and went to the gathering point in Kyiv all alone.
I didn’t really have much of a choice, because I’m a doctor by profession and that’s probably the best thing I can do in this life. Considering the fact that I had military experience, when the war broke out, I immediately rushed to restore my skills. In 2014-2015 I joined the ranks of The Hospitallers Medical Battalion.
I joined the battalion as a full-time student of the Ivano-Frankivsk Medical University. So, in the sixth year of my study, I began to go to the front line in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and worked there in the hottest spots.
Maybe it was even easier to work for me back then because my knowledge was more general, and today I am a specialist doctor. It is becoming more and more difficult for me to remember therapeutic moments like solutions or dosages. I have to recall information again or google it and work out everything anew.
Our medical unit is responsible for the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the place where they were injured to a place where their condition can be stabilized and then transported to more qualified medical centers.
For example, they may get injured somewhere on the line of contact in the Kharkiv or Donetsk regions. After that, our units can take them to the hospital in Lysychansk, and then gradually the wounded are transported to Dnipro or Kyiv, or other military medical establishments.
My work is more clear and simple, because at the time of the beginning of the full-scale invasion, we had four people in the team: a driver (aka a paramedic and a mortar gunner); mortar gunner; a doctor (me) and a paramedic.
This is how the four of us got to know interesting people in the military and all the time, as medics, we are responsible for this group. I can’t say now what kind of group it is for confidential purposes, but I hope that someday everyone will find out about them, how they work and how much they have done in that period. The thing is, they can’t talk about it themselves either, but they are truly unbelievable people! We cover them medically, so our work is locally tied to where they have tasks. We plan the operation itself, taking into account the conditions in which region it will take place – on water or in the air. Because everything depends on where it will be.
This is how we try to optimize our medical service. Thus, in case of injury, each defender will be transported to a medical establishment or receive medical care on time. During the war, we all became one big family, and losing someone will be really difficult for us. Everyone does their own thing, and ours is medicine.
It’s hard to describe a working day or to talk about it, because it’s taken for granted, like a routine. Maybe at the beginning it was so impressive and exciting, because everything was new, but now it’s just work.
I got used to the military routine and, like most people, adapted to it. It’s just that others wake up and go to work, perform work plans by a certain time, but we work on an irregular schedule at this job and always are on the alert.
We have simple routine affairs like any other people: we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, if we have such an opportunity. We also deal with household chores like washing clothes, inspecting technical equipment, medicines, cleaning weapons, and, accordingly, we perform our medical duties.
We are really happy when our day passes peacefully or we have nothing to do at the end of it. We are less happy when we have to go after the wounded. In general, I would say that our days are ordinary.
War is a terrible thing. There is no place for emotions when something happens. At least I’m not an emotional person, even when something bad happens to someone I’ve known well for a few months. Maybe, it’s because I understand that war without losses is impossible. So, you can’t let emotions take over, you have to remain cold minded.
There is no time for break downs. Everyone gets tired and exhausted, so it’s strange to point out how tired you are in such conditions.
I often come across the fact that many people broadcast such moments on Instagram or Facebook. I’m not sure if one should do that.
You just have to understand that now is a difficult time for everyone and our lives have changed. Therefore, it is necessary to embrace all of your courage and go forward only to Victory. Emotions and experiences will come later, after that. There will be a lot of them, but now is not the time for them.
I don’t know if it is appropriate to compare everyone’s life. But mine has changed dramatically to “Before” and “After”. Before the full-scale invasion, I woke up in the morning and went to my favorite job, after that I could go jogging, do sports, and travel. I loved it, love it and hope to continue doing it in the future. I love to travel on a motorcycle, it’s kind of my hobby.
I chatted with friends, played board games and so on. And now it’s all just gone. I suddenly found myself in a completely different world and this is not the dimension that I would like to get used to. I hope that it will end quickly and we will return to what was “Before”.
Maybe there are people who have not yet been affected by this war and that is good on the one hand. On the other hand, you notice how those people who have Ukraine in their hearts do something every day, while others only highlight local problems. When people mention the war only when a rocket hits somewhere and then their whole Instagram world explodes. For these people, not much has changed. But I have another world. For now.
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: Nataliia Zadorozhna