June 2, 2023
Makeevka is a satellite town of Donetsk.  There are fights nearby.  And the ambulance has to go to shelling, rescue people, no matter how dangerous it may be

Makeevka is a satellite town of Donetsk. There are fights nearby. And the ambulance has to go to shelling, rescue people, no matter how dangerous it may be

Photo: Grigory KUBATIAN


It is a calm day in Chervonogvardeisky district of Makeevka today. In general, in recent weeks it has become quieter, maybe due to the fact that the front line has shifted – thanks to our guys, knocking out the enemy from neighboring Avdiivka. Either the enemy has pulled artillery to Artemovsk (Bakhmut) and is now shelling Donetsk and its suburbs in an “economy” mode.

We stop in the yard. The doctor and paramedic go up to the apartment. The driver and I are waiting at the ambulance. The car is brand new, it was sent from Russia two years ago. In the back are armor plates and helmets, also new.

Explosions are heard, but not very close. Approximately loud enough to turn your head anxiously, but not to pull into your shoulders.

– It’s still quiet, – the driver Oleg Rudenko lights up. On the ambulance he is 23 years old. – Sometimes we go to the villages of Lesnoy, Krupskaya, Grigorievka, from the arrivals (shells. – Ed.) The car shakes!

– Do Ukrainians aim at military facilities or anywhere? I ask.

– Yes, they shoot at random more often! They started in 2014 and haven’t stopped. Last year, our car almost got hit. We went to the challenge, someone got a stomach ache, stopped, I look through the glass, and a shell flies in my forehead! It whistled over the roof and hit a private house. There, the woman was immediately killed, the boy was cut with shrapnel, but he remained alive. We took him away, neighbors – someone validol, someone injections. And on the same day – on the next exit – the traffic cop was killed. The guy just returned from the front, went to work, and now, no luck.

– Did it happen that someone was lucky?

– If you can call it luck. The woman was lying in bed at home. A shell went in one window and went out the other. She was not hurt, only the glass fell down. Or they went to the shelling of a candy factory, where 12 people were injured. They began to take them out, and then another rocket flew. Well, our air defense worked, they shot it down. Otherwise, we would all have remained there: workers, rescuers, doctors.

– Is it difficult to rush along broken roads with a flasher?

“Sometimes there are no roads at all. Not with shells, they break it with equipment. You can hardly sneak through these pits. And in the city it happened: I was driving with a siren, and in front someone would join in order to slip through to him, while they gave way. But then they began to launch an ambulance, followed by traffic cops. Do not miss the doctors – come here! They humbled themselves.

Photo: Grigory KUBATIAN


A couple comes out of the house. The girl walks with difficulty, but on her own. Her boyfriend is with her. Faces are gloomy. The doctor shakes his head negatively: the patients do not want to communicate with the journalist. I don’t insist.

We’re taking you to the hospital. Along the way, we argue that the enemy likes to kill on weekends and holidays. People gather in groups, their vigilance is weakened, and if grief hits, more can be done.

Doctor Gennady Ivanov sits in the cab with us.

“In general, it’s scary to go to shelling because of repeated strikes,” he says. – Firefighters, police, doctors come to the place of impact – and they are covered. A month ago, the ambulance team died – two nurses were only 25 years old.

Gennady graduated from the Donetsk Medical Institute, and since 1979 has been working at the ambulance station in Makeevka.

“Now our troops are advancing, the shelling has noticeably decreased,” he says. – Happen about once every three days, but already calmer. But a new problem is that the Ukrainians are firing German anti-tank mines on parachutes. They react to cars passing nearby and explode. A man recently died, a woman’s feet were torn off…

– They say that the Armed Forces of Ukraine started using chemical weapons, is that true?

– Soldiers came to me, they said that they were fired with mines with chemistry near Avdiivka in March. Foam from the mouth, blood, insomnia, cough, blurred vision, weakness. They took antidotes on the spot. But this is not incendiary phosphorus, but poisonous. Like sarin, soman or V-gases. Now they will be treated according to military protocols.

The car pulls up to the hospital. The girl is transferred to a hospital gurney. The driver Oleg gloomily inspects the interior: stained with blood. We’ll have to go for cleaning and quartzing.

“Nothing, we’ll wash it,” he nods. “Sometimes you open the back door, blood flows out.

– You have a hard job…

– Ordinary. Until 2013, under Ukraine, there were still drug addicts. You go to the knife, to the firearm, and there is a dirty scarecrow, you have to drag it. Now there are fewer of them. Afraid. Martial law.

Photo: Grigory KUBATIAN


Paramedic Tatyana Kurchina works in the brigade. She is 60, was born in Donetsk, and has been living in Makiivka for 40 years and the same number – in the ambulance of the Chervonogvardeysky district – the largest and most shelled.

– It was terrible in 2014-15, when we did not understand what was happening. Now they are used to it, they have seen everything. I remember there were arrivals, live wires were cut off, they bounced and sparkled. The military told us: you have rubber wheels, drive, nothing will happen. We went straight along the wires. People said: “My God, we are afraid to go out into the street, and you drive on sparking wires!”

Tatyana has two adult sons. One is fighting in Zaporozhye, the other near Kherson. The son-in-law had been fighting since 2014, then he was seriously wounded and died in the hospital. A nephew near Zaporozhye commands a company, has military awards.

– We had to carry the wounded from Novoazovsk and Mariupol. 5-6 at a time. If there was no room in the car, then they put us on the floor,” says Tatyana. – Here, too, sometimes we are at the forefront. “Petal” mines flew into my front garden. I collected them with a spatula and took them out to destroy. Now we are all looking at our feet. But they didn’t know before, and grandmothers were often blown up, left without legs.

The head of the station, Tamara Petrovna, sometimes peeks into the room. He doesn’t want to give an interview, but then he can’t stand it:

– Although we, Donetsk residents, were annexed to Ukraine, what did we have in common with them?! We have always considered ourselves Russia, we are Russian-speaking people. My uncle was married to a broad rural Ukrainian woman from the village of Cherepyn, Kyiv region. When they voted for secession from the USSR, many shouted that Ukraine was feeding the entire Union, and if we secede, we would immediately live better! And I remembered the words of this relative of mine: “Ni. I’m for the Union! I bachila, yaki won the beasts, like a child, they were. These are beasts. I don’t want to bootie with them.” She was 90 years old, and she remembered the time when Bandera was in charge in Ukraine. How in the village a pregnant Russian teacher was stabbed to death, how they mocked the corpse of an unborn child. And now the whole world praises these ghouls for being against Russia.

Yuri Lykov has been working at this station for 35 years.  There doesn't seem to be any turnover here at all.

Yuri Lykov has been working at this station for 35 years. There doesn’t seem to be any turnover here at all.

Photo: Grigory KUBATIAN


Helmets and body armor are everywhere. Cars are new. And at the station – the old ones, picked up on the battlefield, are all different. One helmet is ours, the other is NATO. I take the armor – heavy, smells like medicines.

– This is from disinfection, – explains the senior paramedic Valentina Petrovna. – They smelled of burning after the battle. I washed them, now they are like new. But we rarely wear. It’s inconvenient to work.

I ask at least someone to wear body armor for the photo. 65-year-old paramedic Yuri Lykov, although not very deftly, pulls on armor and a helmet. Considering that he has to carry suitcases with medical equipment and medicines, you can’t run around in such equipment. And the ambulance must be fast. Therefore, Yuri laughs and puts the bulletproof vest aside.

– When the Ukrainian army started shooting at the city for the first time, it didn’t fit in our head, how could that be?! After all, there are no military facilities here! Yuri recalls. Did you think it was a coincidence? Then they realized that they were shooting at houses on purpose. One mine exploded near the house, and the doors jammed. There grandmothers shout “help!”, but we can’t get them. That was scary. And my relatives live near Kiev. They still say: “It is Russia that is shelling you.” On Ukrainian television, everything is so – upside down! But I can see where it’s coming from. Last year, two hundred meters from my house, a Tochka-U rocket exploded. After Hymars flew in. My children live in Donetsk, I invited them to my place, and now I think: we don’t have a place so far where they don’t fly.

Yuri Lykov has been working at this station for 35 years. There doesn’t seem to be any turnover here at all.

Why are you holding on to this job? I ask him. “It’s not for the sake of money, is it?”

– Wages have recently gone up. More than us, they pay only in a mental hospital, – Yuri jokes. And adds. – We have a tight-knit team. And the work is not monotonous. Each challenge is a challenge with unknowns. Anything happens. The main thing is to be human.

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