Ukraine on the fire

Ukraine on the fire in Ukraine-Russian war

Yana Zinkevych, Hospitaliers Battalion

Yana Zinkevych, Hospitaliers Battalion

Yana Zinkevych from Rivne was only 20, when she came to be in charge of a ten man medics team. During each of her missions, she risks her life – driving under mortar fire in her pickup truck to collect the wounded man from the front lines. Her car has already been hit once, but the amount of lives she saved is counting in dozens.

In her interview for Expresso.TV she explained why she went to the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) war zone and when she plans to return to peaceful life.

– Yana, maybe a primitive question, but why such tender girl like you, appeared in the combat zone? How did you relatives react to this?

– This is my duty. I did not think for too long, simply understood that my help is needed. With the first wave of mobilization I left for ATO. The relatives took this very hard, but they knew how I reacted to everything that is happening in Ukraine. The folks knew that I cannot stay home and remain a “couch warrior”. It was difficult, but they accepted my decision.

– What impressed you the most, from your first visit to ATO zone?

– The fast work pace. And I wasn’t the only one who was impressed with this. With the beginning of armed conflict, I worked with other soldiers who had just arrived. They could not believe, how in such extreme conditions, one can react so quickly. I now understand – here you cannot wait for a “green light” from the Headquarters, to go the front line and evacuate the wounded. Even if under heavy fire – you must get through. There were times that the wounded waited for two days, before anyone would come to transfer them behind the lines. And most importantly – do not pay any attention to fear.

Yana Zinkevych about female soldiers

– Are there many female soldiers?

– Where I was located – this is very rare occurrence. The closer you are to the border – the fewer females you see. Our battalion is quite large and we have few girls in it. Currently the army is trying to lower the number of females at the front lines and have them relocated to the safer places like the Headquarters or Supply. Of course at first the men were surprised by my arrival. They could not understand why I came and what exactly I can help them with. But then, once we got to know each other better, and they seen me at work – they got used to.

– Does one need any additional training to serve in ATO zone or is it enough to have the background in medical education and the will to help?

– One must have at least some basic field training in combat first aid. Also training in military tactics and strategy. Medics must have arms and know how to use them. Generally – the more training you have, the better. If female does not have any medical or field training, she can still work in Supply or the HQ. That is also demand for that too.

– What is more straining at this job – the psychological or physical stress?

– You know, in the beginning it wasn’t hard for me at all. The longer I am here, the more difficult and stressful it gets. Now we operate all over Donetsk region. At first I used to remember the faces of people that I saved, now I don’t.

What need for help for

– What is still needed for your work in ATO?

– Specifically for our battalion, we are short of almost everything. Medicaments, fuel. The State does not support the volunteer battalions. Perhaps some get help, but it never reaches us. Currently there is big need in warm clothing . Also winter boots are needed, few men have symptoms of “trench sickness”. Need blankets and matrasses. Currently there is a lot of scammers trying to get rich on volunteer donations. Various bank accounts that supposedly are open for volunteers. But we only have one official account. The volunteer battalions must be legalized as soon as possible in order to receive State’s help.

– How do locals treat the army?

– The ones that live near our dislocation support us. But anything goes, sometimes you come across bad people. Also a large number of good deeds between the battalion and the locals can be ruined by single incident. Overall in the region – about 50/50. Part of locals support and help us, but there are some that purposely stay behind and collect the information for the terrorists.

– How long do you plan to stay in the combat zone?

– I plan to stay here till the end, until our victory.

Yana Zinkevych, serving in the “ATO” zone
Yana Zinkevych, serving in the “ATO” zone
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