New America Media, Question & Answer, Zdenek Kratochvil
Editor’s note: The Czech Republic has evacuated dozens of Ukrainians wounded in clashes in Kiev, Urkaine in February and March. After violent protests around Feb. 18, critically-injured victims were air-lifted to Prague hospitals. The Czech Ministry of the Interior and the country´s army collaborated on a special program called Medevac – Medical Evacuation. Founded in 1993 the program was created in order to help with emergency transport of wounded people from abroad. Medevac´s misison is to provide health care to people in critical condition or lifethreatening situations. The Czech army provided the aircrafts and the hospitals provided emergency services. NAM contributor Zdenek Kratochvil interviewed Tereza Schejbalova of Czech TV, who was in Prague taping a story about the transportation of wounded Ukrainians.Below are photographs by Czech TV’s Jan langer, showing the faces of protestors wounded by government troops of ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich.
How was the medical evacuation organized?
I was watching the transportation right on the runway at the Prague Kbely Airport where special aircrafts landed on February 27. The first one that landed was a specially constructed Airbus transporting seriously injured Ukrainians. We were taping inside the aircraft right after its landing. The interior was adjusted for special needs of medical crews. In fact, they had all the stuff and equipment available as [if the plane were an] ICU at a hospital. The first aircraft transported the majority of all 27 passengers; two of them in very critical condition, and they had to be transported to the hospital right away by a helicopter. The second aircraft landed a few hours later due to chaos in Kiev. The crew had to wait for one patient. Eighteen ambulances were waiting for patients at the airport in Prague. Afterwards, they were transported to three hospitals.
How many Ukrainian patients received medical help at Prague hospitals after violent protests in February?
At this time, it´s 27 patients in total. (Another humanitarian mission took place on March 6 when 11 more patiens were transported to Prague.)
Do you have any information about the patients? Are they families, couples, single persons? Are there any children among them?
To my knowledge, they don´t know each other, except in one case. The youngest patient is 16 years old and his mother is following him while he’s being treated in the Czech Republic.
You interviewed a few patients. Did they testify about how they were wounded?
I got the chance to speak with three people receiving medicial assistance in Prague. It was the mother of the previously mentioned teenager. He was wounded in the city of Chmelnickij during a prostest that was taking place in tandem with the first rallies at the Kiev square Maydan on February 19. The government troops shot 16-year-old Oleksander in his leg. His mother was informed on the phone by a surgeon from a local hospital. That was the place where her son got the first surgery. He was about to have his leg amputated, but, fortunately, the doctors in the Czech Republic [saved it]. On the other hand, his treatment might take a few months. Several fragments of bullets remain in his body. The wound is severe.
Another patient.. used to work at a bank in Kiev. He was shot by government troops on the same day as the 16-year-old guy. The bullet hit his shoulder and totally smashed his clavicle. He is one of the lucky patients that might be discharged [soon]. He described the explosion that hurt him. ‘[The] first grenade exploded in front of the barricade, then the second grenade. I thought it was the second grenade that wounded my shoulder. It was such a crash,’ he said.
Were all the patients wounded just by government troops?
I interviewed another man who was shot by a group of people called “tatusky.” The name refers to a group of provocateurs who were attempting to make chaos, start fights and shootings during the protests. One shot went straight to his lung, another one hit his leg. ‘It was such a human movement against Yanukovych. We thought it was the end, but we now know, it was just the beginning of the beginning,’ he said.
Michael, 28, electrical technician
Michael was wounded by government troops at Maydan square in Kiev on Feb 18. On that day, government troops reportedly used tear gas on protestors. Frangments from a grenade penetrated Michael´s belly, legs, and back. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)
Jurij, 25, economist
On February 20, Jurij came to Kiev to support the marchers. As he was helping to repair a barricade, a grenade exploded near him. Surgeons later found out he was wounded by a bullet fired from somewhere above. The bullet drilled down into his shoulder blade and cut the tendons. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)
Sergej, 51, ambulance driver
Sergej fell unconscious and lay wounded on the ground after a clash with government troops. He suffered a broken jawbone, broken teeth, and is now blind in his left eye. The surgery at the Czech hospital prevented him from losing his eye. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)
Alexandr, 38, construction worker
On February 19, Alexandr joined protesters as they broke through barricades in front of a government building. He was hit by three bullets coming from the roof of the building, puncturing his leg, shoulder and arm. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)
Dmytro, 19, student
Dmytro was hit in the head by a paving block that caused a brain concussion. The object was thrown at him by “Tatusky,” a group of provocateurs causing chaos, starting fights, and hurting marchers. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)
Photo: Jurij, 25-year-old economist, was wounded on Feb. 20 in protests in Kiev, Ukraine. (Jan Langer/Czech TV)