MSF trials medical train in Ukraine

MSF trials medical train in Ukraine

Yesterday MSF completed its first successful test run of a concept to transform rail cars in order to transfer critically wounded patients coming out of the Mariupol area. We picked nine patients up in Zaporizhzhia and transported them to Lviv where they were referred to local hospitals for more advanced care. The project will be expaning in the weeks to come.

MSF has been working with medical providers here in Ukraine to identify the needs that they’ve expressed to us. They’re doing very well providing life-saving care near the frontlines. But they have expressed the need to offload patients as they become overwhelmed. So we’re working with those hospitals to identify the cases that would benefit from these types of services. And to also identify receiving hospitals that are able to provide the care in a more safe environment.

It’s also about peace-of-mind for the patients and their family enabling them to continue treatment and recover in a part of Ukraine that is further removed from active conflict areas. And it is about reducing the burden on hospitals that are in or close to areas of active warfare. This first short 2-carriage medicalized train is really just a test-of-concept. We will probably use it again, but our energies are now focused on completing the larger and more highly medicalized train. For the larger train, the Ukrainian Railways have provided carriages to the specifications MSF requested, and have stripped them bare ready for the medicalization work. The technical work of ‘medicalizing’ them has just started. We expect this work to be completed in a week or so. But identifying the right patients from the right hospitals and the referral pathways that are most appropriate is complex. So, we cannot provide a precise date of when the larger medical train will come into service.

The intention is to evacuate patients to other hospitals that have more capacity to continue the patients’ care. On this first test-of-concept train we had a relatively basic level of medical care available. On the larger train we plan to have some basic ICU (Intensive Care Unit) capacity to keep patients stable during the journey. But the idea is not to take patients who need ICU-level care when boarding the train. This is not a surgery train or an ICU train – it is a referral train.

Videos and photos available on the link below.  


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Emma Parkin Features and Documentaries Manager
Emma Parkin Features and Documentaries Manager
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