KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man is back from Ukraine after spending two weeks in the war-torn nation. The physician went to train troops and civilians how to care for battle wounds.
“We went with the goal of doing whatever was needed, whether that was emergency surgeries, treating combat casualties,” began Russ Frazier.
Frazier just returned home to his family in Knoxville after spending two weeks in western Ukraine. He said his team with the Global Surgical Medical Support Group entered through Poland and focused on training those who would be headed into combat.
“We did two classes a day, about 80 people per class,” said Frazier. “We ended up getting a little under 500 people trained, we also did a train-the-trainer course.”
He said for battle wound injuries there are two main factors that would kill someone, a massive hemorrhage or loss of airway.
“The first thing you always control is a massive hemorrhage using a cat-tourniquet or an improvised tourniquet to stop arterial bleeding as quickly as you can,” he explained. Frazier then said the next step would be controlling a patient’s airway. He said the training was basic enough for anyone, medical background or not, to learn the steps.
Frazier described the days as long, working at least 18 hours a day.
“When we would get back to where we stayed, then each night we had a debrief and a team meeting, which sometimes took 30 minutes, sometimes took 2 hours,” he said. “Typically it was four to five hours of supposed sleep, but that was typically interrupted a couple of times a night.”
The nights were interrupted by air raid sirens.
“The air raid sirens were typical, especially during the second week,” he said. “We had some missile strikes that were actually between us and our point of exit so that obviously gets a little more worrisome.”
While it was hard work, there was one specific moment Frazier said he knew it was all appreciated.
“An older gentleman seeing an American flag patch on our uniform and coming over tearfully hugging us saying ‘U.S.A. Thank You,'” he remembered. “That was very touching.”
As for those of us at home, he said there is something everyone can donate, whether it be time or money.
In addition to Frazier being a physician in Knoxville, he also serves as the Chief of Knox County Rescue and is a part of the Knox County SWAT team.
Frazier said he would most likely be going back to Ukraine for more training with GSMSG, it’s just a matter of when.