“While still on the Maidan, I realized that the most important thing is to be able to save lives.” Interview with a volunteer from the medical battalion

Ukrainian Kira Neczaj became famous after a photo of herself in a military uniform with a rifle went viral. The girl has been on the front line since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: she is helping the Hospitaliers volunteer medical battalion. We were able to talk to volunteers during breaks between consecutive service rotations.

Kira Neczaj, photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

“We helped doctors on the square: we cleaned the tables, washed the blood”

Kira, 27, joined the Hospitalists medical battalion at the beginning of Russia’s large-scale war with Ukraine in late February.

The girl was at home in Kiev when the war broke out, and it was no surprise to the volunteer that Kira knew it was not the end of Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Donbas.

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“I was woken up by explosions when our anti-aircraft forces fired missiles near Borispol on February 24 at 5:00 am,” the volunteer recalls. “I immediately started calling my friends, with whom we had talked a lot the day before about where we could use our medical knowledge. At first, my friend and I decided to join the Territorial Defense, but a few days later I decided to go to the Hospitaliers base because I knew my skills would be useful there.

Kira Neczaj, photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

Kira began her interest in military medicine in 2014 from Maidan:

– Even before the war in the east, when I was a student, my friends and I helped volunteers on the Maidan. When the most active protests took place, on February 18, 19 and 20, my friend and I helped at the improvised medical center at the then Trade Union House. We helped the doctors, cleaned the tables, washed the blood, etc. Then I realized that in such a critical situation, when a person dies here and now in front of you, and you can not do anything, you can not help him, other skills do not matter. – The most important thing is to be able to save his life.

He contributed to the installation of defibrillators in the Kyiv metro

Kira Neczaj, photo: KN’s personal archive

Kira began training in traditional medicine and then in tactical medicine. Later, he became an instructor in tactical medicine at the Military Medical Academy and began teaching those who were mobilized.

– I wanted to go to the east as a paramedic to use my knowledge there, but I got a sports injury. So I had to find a way to use it as a civilian. This is how my work in public and voluntary organizations began, ”he added.

Many of Kira’s initiatives were related to medicine. For example, he and his friends implemented the Reanimetro project in Kiev. The activists submitted their ideas to the city council and received assistance from the city budget to implement it. As part of the project, Kyiv metro stations are equipped with automatic external defibrillators and modern medical kits.

Kira Neczaj, photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

Kira graduated from two faculties: history and law. For five years, she worked at the Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law, where she was responsible for training project management, overseeing regional projects, organizing awareness-raising events, and training tools for community activists to implement initiatives in their communities.

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In January of this year, a month and a half before the war, Kira began working in the public sector – the National Anti-Corruption Agency – in charge of project management in education.

“Animals are also victims of war and suffer, so we help them.”

Kira Neczaj, photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

When a large-scale war broke out, Kira realized that it was time to apply her knowledge. He has known the activities of the Hospitalists Battalion since 2014 – he trained them in tactical medicine and said that they operate at a high level, so he gladly joined them.

At present, Kira provides first aid to wounded soldiers, as well as civilians and even animals:

“Animals are also victims of war, they also suffer, so if no one else can help them, we can’t leave them,” says the volunteer.

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The work of the “Hospitalists” battalion looks like this: there is a crew, there is a driver in the crew, a “firefighter” in charge of security, a doctor – a person with medical education, a paramedic. Everyone has responsibilities when working with the wounded. If there are many injured, positions may change, Kira explains.

Kira Neczaj, photo: Kira Neczaj // Facebook

Usually, a special vehicle goes to a safe place with the injured person as soon as possible, he is immediately dressed and taken to a stabilization area a few kilometers away. The condition of the injured person stabilizes there, and then the injured person is taken to the medical institution by an evacuation vehicle (MEDEVAC).

– The number of injured depends on the situation, it is not a linear figure, we can not speak the same number every day – says Kira. – Some days there were several dozen, some not one, but one or two wounded. This cannot be predicted. It so happened that we were told about the night attack, we got up at three, we had a full stabilization point and nothing happened. And vice versa – in the middle of a more or less calm situation suddenly started a fire.

One of Kira’s old hobbies is shooting

Kira Neczej with the men of the “Hospitaliers” battalion. Photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

At the beginning of the war, the battalion was operating near Kyiv.

– Then there was a contrast – at first you are in the center of Kiev, where it is more or less quiet and life goes on, but when you go somewhere only half an hour away from the city, you can find yourself somewhere. real war – remembers Kira’s impressions from the first days. – When the fighting broke out in the Kyiv region, we started going east. Now our teams are working in the East and South, where help is needed.

But it is not always possible to help. About two weeks ago, a certain soldier could not be saved after being hit by a Grad missile – the crew of the Kira battalion had to announce his death after a long resuscitation attempt.

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Kira knows how to handle a gun. Shooting has long been one of the hobbies of girls. For a while, the volunteer even had his own weapon. According to him, in theory, he could take part in the battle if necessary, but so far there was no situation in which he had to use a weapon.

While working at the front, Kira does not feel strong fear:

– I think the situation in Ukraine is such that you can not feel safe anywhere. There is a real risk of death from shells in Kiev. In the west and in the east of Ukraine – now everywhere is dangerous. It’s just that the risk is higher in the war zone, but I can’t say that it scares me much. Although there were times when I felt uneasy, I was probably scared. But this did not affect me critically.

“This war will last at least a year”

Kira Neczaj in the mountains, photo: Kira Neczaj / Facebook

Kira’s relatives stayed in Kiev. They care about him and support him. The girl plans to start a family soon – recently engaged. Her fiancé is also in the military and is currently defending her homeland against Russian aggression.

After the war, Kira still wants to work for the welfare of Ukrainian society, and in addition to working, she wants to return to her hobbies of mountain tourism and climbing. The girl has been hiking in the mountains for seven years, and last year climbed Mount Kazbek in Georgia. This 5,000 m high mountain is the highest point Kira has ever climbed.

– After returning to civilian life, we have a lot of work. Kira says much work needs to be done, repaired and improved, and that many people and areas most affected by the war will need support. – However, I do not have concrete plans yet, because I believe that the war will last a long time and will not end in a few months. At least a year.

Therefore, the plan for the near future is to keep Kira on the front line and provide medical assistance to the wounded.

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