"Responding an emergency call, we imagine it was one of the relatives calling", "no sleep, take the bag, run, help, save", "Only a few let ambulances pass. Nobody wants to understand that we go to someone's child, mother, father"... These are the words paramedics use to describe their work.

Recently paramedics participated in the V Ukrainian championship of ambulance teams. The opening ceremony, held on Khreshchyatyk street in Kyiv, seemed to be  a parade of ambulances with 38 vehicles and teams in full battle suit from various regions of Ukraine lining on the main street of the capital. Among them there were four foreign teams from Lithuania and Poland.

ForUm followed the competition from the beginning till the end.

All events of the competition were as close to reality as possible. Ambulances were supposed to receive calls and go immediately, not knowing the details of would-be emergencies. The time for rendering medical assistance and establishing a diagnosis was limited - 10 minutes tops. All actions of the teams were estimated by a competent team of judges in accordance with the real protocol of medicine of emergency.

According to the chief judge Arsen Gudyma, the team of judges numbered about thirty people. Speaking about criteria of estimation, the judge informed that any protocol starts with personal security. "Coming to a scene, paramedics should first ask a judge whether the place is safe and secure the area. Moreover, paramedics should be properly equipped - gloves, masks, glasses, hat or helmet if necessary," he told the details.

The competition consists of eight separate contests and ambulance teams can gain 600 points maximum.

The start was announced by healthcare minister Raisa Bohatyryova. According to her, the championship was held to establish preparation level of paramedics.

The team #28 (two doctors, two paramedics and a driver) arrived from Zaporizhya. On the eve of the competition paramedic Olena kuzmenko shared her emotions: "Our main goal here is to gain new experience and learn new things, and, of course, we expect the victory. However, the important thing is not ambitions but training to share the information with our colleagues later.

There are three contests for us today. According to the terms of the competition, we do not know the details and can count only on our knowledge."

The team #19 arrived from Donetsk. Paramedics said they were training for the competition for two months. Paramedic Lilia Mekesha told us there were many volunteers to participate in the competition, and doctors had to take a local casting to chose those who would represent the city.

"We have a real training center and coaches who trained us. The volunteers had to come to the center and pass a number of tests. The best were chosen for the competition and made a team. Then we had team training," she explained.

Viktor, driver of the Cherkassy team, seemed to be in combative mood, but at the same time told us that in real life it is not so easy to get to a patient fast. "Only a few drivers let ambulances pass. Nobody wants to understand that we go to someone's child, mother, father," he said.

Finally the competition started and accompanied by blue lights and sirens, ambulances left for "battles". ForUm correspondents followed the vehicles to experience the rush of emergency call. 

On the way we met the team of judges who were explaining the tasks for each team. At the "deployment site" the participants underwent final briefing and received envelops with the task.

The paramedics from Zaporizhya agreed to work under the lens and took ForUm correspondents with them. According to the legend of the task "Feast", a wife called ambulance for her unconscious husband. The driver speeded up and the vehicle rushed to the scene. Meanwhile, paramedics were trying to unriddle the task and prepare several plans of action. The atmosphere in the vehicle was not gloomy as it could appear, paramedics even joked from time to time.

Having  arrived on site the team discovered the situation...

It turned out that while the husband was lying unconscious after the party, a drunken family friend was running around with an axe. He even tried to attack the paramedics. As soon as the door opened, the judges start to register every move of the team.

The first stage was finally completed - area was secured. Then there was the turn of the very rescue operation.

In fact, paramedics were saving a dummy, but it seemed very real. The paramedics worked fast using medications, defibrillator and other medical tricks.

After ten minutes the judge signed off. The number of points the team gained remained a secret till the end of the competition.

Signing with relief the team went to the base. Oleksand Vedeneyev, head of the team and deputy chief of Zaporizhya emergency station, highly praised the work of the team.

"We did great. Our best specialists conducted reanimation. In ten minutes cardiac function was restored. The pulse level was sufficient for proper cerebral circulation, and artificial lung ventilation was well-run," he told journalists.

Paramedics also added the situation was not that bad. According to them, they've seen worse, for example when patients not only wave axes, but also shoot.

After the first round we joined the team from Ternopil, which agreed to take us to "Dangerous games" mission.

Paramedic Volodymyr Gnyzdiukh read the task: "Patient fell off a train. Complaints about pain in the arm and leg." The team immediately prepared the equipment: laryngoscope, splints, cardiograph, vials, defibrillator, etc.

On the way paramedics told us that the goal of the competition for them was not a prize itself but to prove themselves everything was done properly.

Having arrived on site the team discovered there were two victims, not one. The one under the bush called the ambulance, but "forgot" to tell that his friend was lying unconscious on the rails. The team immediately rushed to the second victim. The doctor explained later that a crying patient is not critical, while unconscious one requires immediate attention.

After ten minutes the judge stopped the time and the team went back to the base to get a new task. On the way back paramedics were silent, analysing the accomplished task.

Doctor Oleksandr Lyashko admitted later it is easier to work with real patients. At the "deployment site" we said goodbye to the team, which left for the next call...

After three tense days the judges announced the winners of the V Ukrainian championship of ambulance teams. In the nomination "state institution" the first prize went to the Kyiv team, and Kharkiv and Lviv teams claimed second and third places respectively.

Among foreign guests, the Polish team claimed first place, and Lithuanians teams ranked second and third.

Well, the competition is over, but reality continues, and counting of victories and active help starts with real calls coming daily to "103" number.

Tetyana Matsur, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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