Tetyana Kagui, volunteer, instructor in tactical medicine, nominee for the EuroMaidan SOS Award in 2017.
Born in 1972 in Kiev. Has medical education in specialties: psychology, sexopathology, pathologist with practice in the Czech police. Has passed a course of tactical medicine at Tartu Military College (Estonia). Together with Yuri Hovsepyan, the non-profit NGO “For the Future of the Country” was founded for the purposeful help to defenders of Ukraine (medicine, ammunition and optics). She also conducts colleges of tactical medicine, survival, emergency management. Personally supports the project “The Peacemaker”. Whenever possible, it pays attention to zoo protection and assistance to homeless animals, especially dogs.
Tetiana, you have chosen volunteering in the medical sector. Why?
I have medical education – I am a pathologist. Also studied psychology, psychiatry. Worked in the Czech Republic, then returned to Ukraine.
Can you compare work abroad with Ukrainian experience?
The Pathologist is not the doctor who can compare what is there and what is here. In state structures, salaries are low in us than in them. Paradise on earth does not happen at all.
Tell us why volunteering started for you?
I will say honestly: when the Maidan started, I did not intend to go there at all. As for the agreement with the European Union – yes, I was sorry that this did not happen, but this is not what prompted me to enter the Maidan. I went because I was asked by my husband. He felt unwell, and I just went there to take photos, as he asked me. I came there and saw many friends – from the inter-party assembly, familiar “Afghans” … So I began to walk and bring what I thought fit.
I was officially recorded to the Maidan headquarters, I received a certificate, but I did not want to join any union, because even then there were different misunderstandings between people, so I did not want to be involved with any organizations.
What was the key point to you? Why continued to help the military?
There were very strong impressions, especially after people died … It was such a strong depression and disappointment, apparently. Most people were disappointed, most were in stress, but still people united against hundreds of Maidan, and then decided to fight. They dared to go further.
At first I was sympathetic enough to the voluntary “Right Sector” and more radical organizations. I did not know why I sympathetic myself, but I had sympathy for the culture, to the flags, to the slogans “Ukraine above all.” For first, began to help to “Azov” because there were my friends, which I just began to help in inertia.
What kind of help then most needed?
I conducted joint actions, although then Azov and the Right sector were not very friendly with each other, but I tried to hold promotions on which we collected help for both. Put tents on Azov and the Right Sector, hanging the flags of those and others, and all the aid collected was halved. A fund, products, clothes, medicine – all that we brought was divided into halves between the two divisions. Despite the fact that none was delighted with this. But everyone needed help, so they met peacefully together.
At first, their views differed ideologically. At first it was a very acute situation. I specially came to visit Azov in the T-shirt of the Right Sector, and on a visit to the PS – in the T-shirt of Azov!
Have a lot of needs changed?
To be honest, now there are practically no such military volunteers like those before. Because the majority is under one or another structure, at least formally. So volunteers are not one hundred percent now. If we talk about the help, then it seems to me that at the moment it is more necessary to help the units that are legal. Because now we are popular to have someone unhappy. And now, many people, hiding behind the word “volunteer”, collect what they do not need. They take absolutely everything. While the legal units sometimes say: “There is one and the other”, and they say: “We do not need”. You say: “I have five turnstiles”, but they do not need them. Apparently, the security situation has changed, but is anyone able to admit it? In such volumes as then, backpacks, totals, first aid kits … this is no longer required.
Now such an urgent need, which was in the 14-15 years, without which the defenders will not survive without the help of volunteers, no longer exists. Therefore, sometimes fighters need the very fact that they are remembered, and attention in the form of our help. In my opinion, assistance has become more motivating than urgent.
And is there any need for the army for today, which is still not provided by government?
It depends very much on the unit and the commander. If the unit asks for axes and shovels – this is not the fault of the Ministry of Defense or government, it is the fault of a particular commander or the soldiers who write letters to the volunteers at his request asking “we are naked and bare, give us an ax, please.” Or they lost their place somewhere.
Some probably think that volunteers at home have such a large machine that prints money, body armor, even ammunition. It was once asked to buy guns. Thirty-two automats! I ask, “Well, how should I do that?” “So write a post,” they say. But I’m going to imprisoned! Nothing, they say, “you’re a volunteer, you’ll forgive.”
There is still such a problem: people can not realize that what is needed by the scout does not need at all a fighter who cooks the borsch somewhere in the rear or at the rig. No helmet, no thermal imager, no tactical knife … But he wants! He writes on Facebook that he does not have it and, unfortunately, there are naive people who are trying to provide him everything. Perhaps we have to filter information?
Have the military become more knowledgeable about the provision of primary care?
In fact, those who want to know something – they can. Quite a lot of different volunteer initiatives and organizations go to the ATO zone, conduct trainings, present videos as they teach. And really teach! Therefore, everything depends only on whether people want to learn.
But does this knowledge not only be needed in the war?
Yes. For example, when there is an accident in Kiev, calling up emergency and police, the first arrives police. And the police are already able to help. When ambulance arrives, physicians often look for a long time and do not understand why they are called here. Because the police are learning a new one, but they are no longer studying.
Do you conduct medical trainings now?
Volunteering training in this format, as I did earlier, I did not do this year. First, I’m tired of invitations “for a tick”. For example, when they are invited to school, simply because they need to do such lessons. In fact, there are some budgets for such classes in district or city, but schools are now inviting volunteers for free, plus collecting more money from their parents. When I found out that we had classes for free, and they also gathered from their parents, I said “goodbye.” That’s first. And secondly, to conduct classes in order to just come to talk – I do not see in this sense. I taught children in several military colleges, I came there after classes, and other instructors came. But … it was funny for them! In general, it’s really interesting for two or three children on the group, and all the others were there just to laugh.
What about adult training?
Yes, we did such courses. If someone wants to get medical training, I always say: find 10-15 people who want and a room where you can spend free classes. But here too there are people coming in suits and ties and waiting for someone to jump and show everything, but they just will sit and listen.
And sometimes there was a rather provocative question. For example, how to smoke away cops, how to do something to kill a person? I replied that my courses are not about how to kill, but how to save lives. And how much I would not be photographed, did not shoot – I do not do anything illegal. So, I can talk about the behavior of mass gatherings – how to act if “Molotov cocktail” “Molotov cocktail” flies in your direction or how to protect yourself if you rub with gas. But not the opposite! And people sometimes provoke and turn this information off to ask not how to protect themselves, but how to do it with others. Not only me, but all those who have been training in medicine have come across this. Therefore, now before the courses, I ask to sign a statement that people are aware that we are not learning to kill and give knowledge only about how to protect our lives and not harm others.
Do not you worry that such provocateurs can harm you?
And they are easy to detect. They are often very talkative, they treat all sandwiches, photograph too much, but avoid themselves to be photographed, ask the other instructors for contacts – where else they could go. Of course, apart from this, all this is inherent in many people. But combinations of provocative guiding questions and such behavior gives out … Usually, if you then search these people in social networks – you will notice that with all their allegedly patriotic tuning, they have pretty provocative things on the pages.
What are your plans for the near future?
In the near future – I want to still buy a sight in one unit, which promised. I printed the posters of tactical medicine and I want to distribute them free into military units. To useful always being before the eyes. Here drew attention to a beautiful girl – and already remember where to put that bundle!
Finally, what would you recommend to volunteer colleagues?
By helping defenders in Ukraine, do not divide them by “chevrons”, structures or statuses. Because our enemy is Putin, Russia, traitors to Ukraine, adapters. And the “internal enemy” is those who believe that the Ukrainian government is worse than Putin.
Anastasia Obertas for Ukrainian Women’s Guard
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