Boston doctors’ videos show Ukrainians how to stop bleeding wounds

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“The data we have from the battlefield indicates that a significant number of deaths would be preventable through these actions,” Eric Goralnick, an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The Washington Post.

Goralnick is the doctor demonstrating the tutorial in the short video that includes a list of actionable steps in Ukrainian. Another video, approximately 4½ minutes long, provides a more detailed step-by-step narration in Ukrainian by Nelya Melnitchouk, a Ukrainian-born oncology surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Many civilians are dying in civilian homes and hospitals,” Melnitchouk told The Post. “I mean, that shouldn’t be happening.”

While Russian forces have continued to attack Ukrainian cities, the civilian toll has increased. A United Nations human rights office reported Monday that at least 636 civilians have been killed and 1,125 injured since the Russian invasion began on February 24, although the office said the actual figure was “considerably higher.”

Melnitchouk came to the United States from Ukraine when he was 18 and still has family there. Before the start of the war, she worked with an organization to share information about cancer treatment with Ukrainian doctors and patients. When the war started, she said, Ukrainian doctors started calling her for trauma care, so she wondered how she could help from the United States.

Goralnick, whose parents were Ukrainians, explained that the method taught in the videos was developed in the early 1990s by a Navy doctor named Frank Butler who examined victims in the Vietnam War.

He noted that “there was a significant number of preventable deaths on the battlefield, mostly from uncontrolled bleeding,” Goralnick said, adding that another analysis found similar findings in the early days of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Non-medical personnel in the military have therefore been trained to recognize and intervene in uncontrolled bleeding, Goralnick said.

The civilian training focuses on three steps that Goralnick demonstrates in the videos aimed at Ukrainians. The first is to call the emergency services so that the injured person can eventually get help from medical professionals. The second involves looking for significant bleeding. If a person is bleeding profusely, the third step is to control the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with a cloth or tourniquet until help arrives.

One image from the war stuck in Melnitchouk’s mind as she created the tutorials: a video of a woman who lost her leg early in the conflict. Melnichuk read that the woman had died and worried that her death could have been avoided.

“She could have died of something else, of course,” Melnichuk said. “But the most likely cause is that she bled to death.

The tutorials were in part a response to Melnitchouk’s desire to take action amidst her helplessness.

“Even though this video saves a life,” she said, “it’s totally worth it.”

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