Injured Ukraine civilians saved…from a world away


Pictured, from left: Dr David McAroe, Dr Philip Ward 

Two St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne emergency physicians have played a leading role in the development of instructional videos that could save lives in the war in Ukraine.

Doctors Philip Ward and David McAroe scripted and helped produce a series of recently released vignettes that are guiding Ukrainians on how to immediately treat war injuries such as gunshot wounds, amputation, shrapnel or stabbing bleeds and severe burns.

The videos, narrated by high profile Ukrainian and British TV presenters Timur Miroshnychenko and Dan Snow, feature doctors and paramedics who demonstrate lifesaving first aid techniques using readily available materials, including belts and plastic bags.

Shared widely across social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Telegram, the episodes are available in Ukrainian, Russian and English.

Dr McAroe, an Irish trauma specialist now based in Melbourne, has had a long association with – and passion for – critical civilian treatment.

"Since moving to Australia in 2014, it is very clear to me that Melbourne enjoys a world-class emergency care system and that St Vincent's is at the forward edge of this excellence. It was therefore a privilege for Phil and me to be asked to provide education on these critical care techniques to the victims of violence and war injuries in overseas communities, such as those in the Ukraine,” Dr McAroe said.

“The use of social media and digital technologies in this way is truly innovative, allowing our message to reach those in need at the most critical moments and has a global reach that will save lives."

Dr McAroe said people typically have little experience in the provision of first aid, and much less war wounds.

“A distinct lack of knowledge brings reluctance to help at an injury scene – human nature is to not want to do more harm, so people most often wait and don’t move in,” Dr McAroe said.

“Phil and I are pleased that our expertise and involvement with this initiative is changing that behaviour and enabling more people to become life-savers.”

A concept for regional and rural Australia

Dr Ward believes emergency first aid training could help Australians living in remote areas.

"The initiative is focused on conflict injuries abroad, however could be easily applied to injuries suffered here in Australia. This is particularly true in regional and rural areas where some may be large distances away from emergency medical care,” Dr Ward said. 

“For example, equipping Australians with the skills to manage the first few minutes of a farming or machinery accident can save lives."

Powerful coming together of medical minds and hearts

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne CEO Angela Nolan reflected on the brilliance of the collaborative initiative.

“Innovation and goodwill are a powerful combination and Dr Ward and Dr McAroe possess both in spades,” Ms Nolan said.

“Their work, in association with peer Dr Nicholas Rhead, and other organisations involved, such as Civilian Aid and Street Doctors, shows how much impact the medical community can have when it works together.”

Watch a recent news story on the emergency care videos here.