Field Reports from an Aussie Paramedic in Ukraine - Field Report 1


· Professional,Field Reports

Words By Jack Dear


Earlier this year Australian based paramedic Jack Dear embarked on a journey that would eventually take him to the front lines of the war in Ukraine. Having previously worked as a paramedic in Australian Capital Territory, London Ambulance Service, and Cape Town South Africa, Jack has also worked as a security/medic in the Australian Embassy in Kabul and as a soldier in the Australian army armoured corp. But in his own words, "this deployment to Ukraine was destined to be unlike anything he had experienced prior".

In this short mini-series “Field Reports from an Aussie Paramedic in Ukraine,” Jack documents his experiences briefly to capture the experience of an Australian paramedic working in Ukraine.


Field Report 1. Day 2.

Apologies for not writing sooner but travelling to Europe was tedious and uninteresting. Despite my fears, I finally arrived safely at Medyka yesterday with all my baggage. First night was straight into packing vehicles full of supplies. The initial plan was to rest up in Medyka but a request came in for some urgently needed medical stores. This meant heading off early in the morning on a 10 hour drive. The border crossing took forever but we arrived to PARACREWS depot in the Ukrainian countryside. On the way we passed the first few signs of the war including a quick navigation around a downed bridge.

It’s been an eye opener already. This ain’t Kansas (Kabul) anymore.


Day 4: Mission 1. Kharkiv.

Today we transported much needed food, bedding and healthcare supplies to Heroiv Pratsi Metro Station in Kharkiv. Many people are still sheltering at the station due to their homes being repeatedly damaged. At the height of the shelling, over 1000 people sought safety at the underground station. Currently, 100 people are still sleeping rough on the platform, including several children. The stations community leaders are already stockpiling for a harsh winter, where they expect their numbers to surge once again. We discussed the sanitation challenges and preventative healthcare strategies they have employed to see where things could be improved. With only one toilet at the station and a single shared kitchen, the risk of illness is considerable. Today was a very humbling experience but also a true demonstration of how resilient the residents of Kharkiv have been. They are truly dependant on donations and will face many challenges in the coming months.

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Should anyone wish to help:


Day 5. Rest and Reset. 

As a volunteer organisation we generally run a day on/day off rotation. One day your team will be responding or carrying out a mission, the next day you will rest back at base and prepare for the next mission. Today we organised the next round of donations that we will be distributing to villages and metro stations. I also took the opportunity to go through the medical bag. We have a variety of donated medical supplies from all over the globe. Our LifePak 12 is from Norway, our saline is from Poland and our cannulas are from America. We also have over 5 different varieties of tourniquets.

PARCREW Crisis Response Team -


Day 6. Resupply Mission. 

Yesterday we went to far east Ukraine into areas liberated from Russian occupation less than a fortnight ago. Senseless destruction of the village houses, roadside service stations and even the local hospital was evident. When the Russians left, they imposed a two day curfew on the locals. During this time they ransacked the hospital and stole anything of value. The two doctors, a surgeon and an anaesthetist at the civilian hospital, described to us how they had to rapidly change their practice to operate in an environment with little resupply. Basic items like ventilators and infusion pumps are luxury items. Suture thread is always in need especially for civilian use. They have a single defibrillator but pads are always in short supply, and often have to be reused. Dr. Oli (name changed) gave me a tour of their resuscitation bay, ICU and surgical rooms. I wish I could have photographed their hospital as my descriptions lack the ability to describe how amazing their efforts are, especially in such a challenging environment. Their work has undoubtedly save many lives including some foreign legion soldiers.

We dropped off our donation of wheelchairs, crutches, vital monitors and medication, with plans to return with more donations and specialist items in the near future. Afterwards, we drove out into the surrounding farmland to distribute the 178 bags of basic food and hygiene supplies, each providing 13,000 calories. Generous donations of woman’s sanitary items were distributed along with washing soap, and lollies for the kids.

We now have a long list of requested items, including medical supplies that we will go about sourcing for our next return. We are run almost exclusively on volunteering and donations, of both monetary and gifted supplies. Feel free to message me if you wish to know more on PARACREW or how to help in its mission.


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Day 9 (10 when I get reception to post) … I think. 

This post is for my nerdy medic friends. (I’ve put up some pics of the ambulance/medical set up below) I’m now in Dnipro and finally putting my medic skills to use. We covered 800km on terrible roads over the last 3 days, with only one brief breakdown. Many hours were spent blaring the music or sleeping in the back of the ambulance, on the mountain of medical gear. I had many nerdy conversations with our tag-along American Doctor, Frank, who’s off to Kramatorsk hospital to build their surgical capability. Frank is the CEO of Health Care Volunteers International. As you can imagine, there are many NGOs in Ukraine. We’re now working alongside @HelpUkraine and I’ve been paired with Simon, another Norwegian paramedic and surgical technician. Along with our resident Ukrainian translator, Zooriana (pronounce ‘sorry-Anna’) we have been preparing our 3 ambulances for upcoming medievac missions. Zooriana has been doing medic work since the beginning of the war, having personally lost loved ones to the fighting. This arvo we went to our local GP contact and collected all the medications we could, to distribute to liberated areas. Dr Olena, a local Anaesthesiologist and GP, gave us the hookup. She said that it’s so frustrating with all the shelling, remarking that one day she was trying to count some medication when a nearby blast made her lose count. Inconsiderate. Simon was like a kid in a candy shop and we walked away with more medication than we could carry. As they say in Ukraine, “Ukrainians believe in ‘magic medicines’. They want pills. Best is intramuscular injection. The more painful the better.”

Maybe they are predisposed to the placebo effect.

It was a late night (yesterday), I spent time putting all the gear into the newly acquired ambulance. It’s a UK variant form Oxford. It’s odd to think this ambulance once served in the UK, carrying patients and medics for over 400,000km, and now it’s rolling around the battlefields of Ukraine.

As I write this, we are driving through fog on our way east (Simon, Zooriana and Me), with a 2nd ambulance in tow. We’re passing through checkpoints without stopping, waved through because we are medical. Making good time. Large fortifications and tank traps appearing out of the mist at rapid speed now.

Crazy that this is my life now but for some reason, I wouldn’t change it for the world.



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