Disclaimer: This article is the third part of a four-part series. This series will discuss sensitive matters pertaining to the ongoing war in Ukraine such as brutality, murder, and sexual assault. Please read with discretion.
After spending weeks in Kyiv setting up a make-shift trauma clinic, Jordan Searle and his team of volunteer first responders were finally ready to move deeper into the country of Ukraine to continue their relief efforts.
Searle and his team successfully set up the war-time clinic in a dental office just outside the center of Kyiv. They were able to train approximately 30 dentists, dental hygienists, community nurses and other allied health care workers.
By the end of their time at the temporary clinic, the new trainees were able to operate the ambulances, navigate emergency calls and perform life-saving procedures so that the patients would make it to a more equipped medical facility.
As the bombing begin to lighten in the Kyiv region and the aid charities began to move in and help, the Ukrainian government requested that Searle’s team move on to another region that needed help.
Searle said he felt confident leaving their first clinic in the hands of the locals that they trained, “We had people trained as crew for the ambulances [at that point], we trained them to drive, how to [use the equipment], they knew how to stop catastrophic bleeding and how to use a defibrillator.”
“We now had about 30 people who were capable of manning an ambulance and responding to a call. The training obviously proved well because a lot of the [patients] they were bringing back were stabilized to the extent that normally, they would have died in the field.”
“We were very proud to see it!”
The team then took one of the ambulances and a response vehicle and moved to another area where the fighting was still very active.
The momentum from what some call a successful defence of Kyiv was quickly overshadowed by the absolute horror that was being discovered in the towns of Bucha and Irpin. As the Russians retreated, they left a trail of blood.
“As [the Russians] began to pull back, we began to uncover a lot of the terror that was left in their wake. We were one of the first units to enter Bucha where all of the people had been murdered.”
“There were multiple bodies across the street... everywhere – men, women, and even children. It wasn’t accidental and it wasn’t that they had just been caught in the crossfire, it was targeted attacks.”
“You would see family vehicles on the sides of the roads that were just riddled with bullet holes and bodies in them that had been there for a week or two [because] no one was able to get there to give them a dignified rest.”
The team, along with the local police, began to sweep the area, looking for anyone who may have needed help. At the same time, they were discovering more and more bodies. Searle said they attempted to give them the most respectful burial possible.
“There were trails of blood from people who were wounded in the initial invasion, they tried to get home and desperately call for help but no one was able to get there – no one was coming to help [them].”
According to Searle, the Russians not only bombed the hospitals and major civilian centers but also invaded the medical facilities and brutally tortured the medical staff.
“For example, the hospital in Irpin was just absolutely destroyed. The whole outside was blasted to pieces. The doctors and nurses there were desperately trying to keep it running.”
“They were saying [to me], ‘the [Russians] came in and beat us every single day, they stole all of our medical equipment, we weren’t allowed to treat certain people’ – they said it was just horrific. There were some reports of even the wounded being killed in their beds as the forces pushed through.”
Despite the terrorizing conditions, the Ukrainian medical staff showed tremendous strength and stayed to help the wounded, Searle said “These are firsthand accounts from medical professionals that we were speaking with so I [believe that it did happen], there is no reason for any of them to lie. You could see by just looking in their eyes that they were just completely wiped.”
“As we know now, Bucha and Irpin are just the tip of the iceberg of some of the stuff that has happened in that country.”
Searle made a very powerful comparison, “I am very much in the mindset [after] being on the ground, that the Russian intent was to remove the Ukrainian identity – very much like the second world war and Hitler's view of the Jewish people.”
During their time in Ukraine, Searle met a young Ukrainian doctor named Sergei who had set up a medical clinic in an elementary school.
“That classroom with never be the same, the amount of blood that is on those wooden floors... this is a school - how are they ever going to return after the amount of death that has happened in this room alone.”
“It was surreal treating casualties on makeshift beds in a kindergarten and all around you, it's like the day the kids left. All of their pictures are still on the wall – all of their drawings are still there. But then in the center of the room is a bunch of people who are fighting for their lives.”
As the skies got quieter and the dust began to settle in the area Searle’s team was in, a new but expected problem was becoming apparent – dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the Russian invasion.
“We started hearing all of the horror stories of the survivors, especially the young girls and the women that were just [constantly] raped, attacked and beaten. So much so that now there are who charities devoted to providing rape kits [to these women] – we are talking hundreds of thousands of them, not just two or three.”
“It was just horrific. We would see some of these women that would come [to us] just scared to death of anything, you know, even trying to come forwards for help. I can’t imagine the trauma that they are going to suffer for a long time.”
Searle made it very clear that the brutality the Ukrainian people were facing was inhuman and monstrous acts of terror that happened, and continue to happen, for unexplainable reasons.
“In some of the stories of the initial Russian occupation, [Ukrainians] were saying ‘Oh these people came into our house, they took my son away and they shot him outside – I don’t know why they shot my son, they just left him there.’ How helpless they must have felt.”
During our interview, Searle was asked about where he stands when it comes to the Russian people, “You know, I feel for a lot of the Russians – I don’t have hatred for the Russian people even after seeing the destruction, unnecessary killing, murder and rape, all the stuff that they did because you cannot toll the whole country with the actions of those who did it.”
“And unfortunately, I don’t think we will ever find out who did it – all the murdering, raping and pillaging. That’s just something that realistically, will probably never happen. Much in the same way that Vladimir Putin will probably never be stood in the Hague Criminal Court for war crimes.”
“I do find it difficult because I don’t [paint] all Russians with the same brush – Russian people or even all of their own military because there are a lot of people there in their military who probably have absolutely zero ideas of what is going on.”
From the beginning of the Ukraine/Russia conflict, Russia has used cover stories of “special operative missions” and “de-Nazification” as reasons to justify their invasion. In the early days of the conflict, the UN released proof that a large majority of the Russian forces were unaware of what they were to do in Ukraine.
Searle made it clear that the Russian ignorance was not a justification for the brutality that has happened in the country, but that it is a point that should be remembered.
Watch for the final part of this story which will be released tomorrow, May 28, at 5:00 AM (CDT) or you can listen to the full interview with Jordan Searle HERE: