The journalists of Slidstvo.Info talked to Viktor Rodin, a medic of the 93rd Brigade Kholodnyi Yar with the call sign “Doc”. He organises and coordinates work at the stabilisation point. His official title is “resident doctor of the medical department”. The doctor jokes that despite the field conditions, the stabilisation point is actually quite similar, at least in terms of the number and specialisation of staff, to a regular hospital ward.

Prior to the full-scale invasion, Viktor Rodin, call sign “Doc,” ran a private plastic surgery clinic in Zaporizhzhia, and in the spring of 2022 decided to join the army.

Viktor Rodin with the call sign “Doc”

How did you mobilise? 

Like, probably, many of the guys who joined the army. I came a little later, not from the very beginning. But in April, I was in the Armed Forces and immediately got to the Zaporizhzhia direction (this refers to a different unit, the medic joined the 93rd Brigade in July 2023 — ed.). 

Before that, my friends and I had a plastic surgery clinic in Zaporizhzhia. We performed various surgeries: on the face, eyelids, rhinoplasty, facelift, otoplasty, breast surgery, buttock and leg surgery. 

And in February 2022, of course, I first took my family to western Ukraine, and then I would return, and together with a professor friend, we went to military units and gave lectures on first aid to the guys, and then I got a draft notice, so I joined the army. 

I’ll tell you another interesting case. I have a friend with the call sign “Ded” (“Grandpa” — transl.). He is a member of the Steppe Wolves (the name of the tactical group — transl.), and he was also in the Zaporizhzhia sector. I was talking to him once and said: “Ded, do young people come to you?”. He said: “Yes, they do.” I asked: “How do you select them? You talk to the boys.” And “Ded” said: “Well, yes. The first question: “How old are you, 25? Do you have children? Go and reproduce!”. So when they say that the average age in the army is about 40-45 years old, maybe it’s right. We also need young people, but I would save the young people.

Viktor Rodin with the call sign “Doc”

In your experience, is there a shortage of medics in general? 

In terms of combat medics, it seems to be quite good, but there is a bit of a shortage of medical staff. 

Is your previous experience as a plastic surgeon useful in your work now, or is it something else entirely?

These are different things. And it’s wrong to compare them. Initially, I was not a plastic surgeon, but a general surgeon and worked for many years in an emergency hospital in Zaporizhzhia.

Then, as a surgeon, I started doing plastic surgery. And in 2022, I returned to general surgery again. Here it is even wider. It includes thoracic surgery and head injuries. 

So you can perform some surgeries at the station?

At this stage, we do not perform surgeries because there are different levels of evacuation. Evacuation here takes very little time. At this stage, our task is to stabilise the wounded guys so that they can be transported to a hospital where they will be operated on. There, the doctors will know the nature of the injuries because we have a connection, and they will immediately take the guys “to work”.

Is there any way to compare the situation in the Zaporizhzhia sector and here, near Bakhmut, in terms of the number of wounded or the nature of their injuries? 

I cannot compare the number of wounded, because when I was in the Zaporizhzhya sector, I did not have the whole picture of the wounded. Because I was engaged in evacuation and only brought the guys to the station, so I don’t know how many were there per day. But by the nature of their injuries, they are more or less similar. Many of the guys are wounded by infantry mines.  

How do you feel in the Bakhmut sector? Isn’t it offensive that you were transferred from the Zaporizhzhya sector when the offensive started? 

I was transferred here at my own request. I believe I will be of more use here, because there, in principle, combat medics can evacuate from the trench to the stab. And here, you need medical assistance directly. My knowledge is much more important here. 

What is your main job now? I understand that you are not only a doctor, but also a general organiser of work? 

My predecessor, if I may say so, together with the command, organised everything and has now been transferred to the newly formed brigade. So when the wounded arrive, everything here works like an ant hill, and everyone knows, just like in an ant hill, who has to do what. Doctors, medics, and anaesthetists all know their job. 

How many wounded people can you “take” at the station?

We have 6 cots, so ideally we can simultaneously provide assistance to about six seriously and six lightly wounded. In general, there can be from 10 to 20 people. I would also like to note that the guys I talk to here immediately ask: “Doc, how soon can I go back?”. Of course, there are times when guys cry, everyone has a different psyche, but you have to understand where they were and what they went through. 

However, those who can speak are mostly in a fighting mood, I would say.

What is the main difference or difficulty of working at the stabilisation point for you? 

People are different. Sometimes a person can work slowly, but you can’t do that here. You have to do everything as fast as you can. 

For example, we have a lot of people from Zaporizhzhia, namely from the Fifth City Hospital, which is an emergency hospital. Both the anaesthetist and the surgeon are from there, and I worked there for a long time. 

We were mobilised at different times, but when I came here, I saw all the familiar faces. And, of course, it was easier for me to “join” the team, I was accepted quickly because they knew me, because we had worked with some of them for decades together. It just happened that way. 

Is it more difficult for you emotionally in the Bakhmut direction? After all, you were almost at home in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 

Well, it was a little more comfortable there because it was only 50 kilometres from home, so I could get away for a couple of hours. But we are at home both there and here.

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