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Doctor Who Treated Mariupol Wounded Heads To Ukrainian Front

KHARKIV, Ukraine — For 22 days, Serhiy Chornobryvets barely slept and rarely took off his red paramedic uniform. Day and night he ran around his hometown of Mariupol, rescuing those injured by Russian bombs and shells that hit the southern Ukrainian town.

When he finally escaped Mariupol – whose inhabitants endured some of the worst suffering of the war during a nearly three-month siege – he still did not rest. Instead, he joined an organization that sends medics to the frontlines in eastern Ukraine, where the fighting is currently concentrated.

“Me before Mariupol and me after what happened: they are two different people,” the fresh-faced, skinny 24-year-old said in a recent interview with The Associated Press in another city, Kharkiv. which came under heavy bombardment.

“If I hadn’t survived Mariupol, I wouldn’t have gone to work as a paramedic now. I wouldn’t have had enough courage,” explained Tchornobryvets, who is simply called “Mariupol” on the battlefield and now wears a patch that bears the symbol of the port city, a yellow anchor, on his camouflage uniform.

In fact, he saw no other way to make sense of the horrors he had witnessed in a place that had become a global symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion. Residents came under relentless bombardment, with many trapped without food, water, heat or electricity.

“It was like going back to the Stone Age,” Chornobryvets said. “There was looting, constant shelling, planes, aerial bombing. The people around us were losing their minds, but we continued our work.

While many hid in basements or bomb shelters, Chernobryvets said he never did. He remained above ground tending to the wounded, while risking his own life. He finally fled on March 18 — his birthday — still in his red paramedic overalls.

His tireless efforts were publicly praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, when the leader in May accepted an award from the Atlantic Council, the Washington-based think tank, on behalf of the Ukrainian people.

Chernobryvets said his new job at the front and what he did in Mariupol were almost indistinguishable: “Same injuries, only I wear a different uniform.

In footage from July, he and his fellow doctors can be seen rushing towards a soldier hit by Russian fire. They tightened a tourniquet around the man’s right thigh, then carefully treated a gaping wound in an arm and leg where the bone was exposed.

He has one year left in college, but he resists making plans for the future. Until the war is won, he has sworn to stay on the battlefield.

“Medicine is my life and my duty is to save people,” Chernobryvets said.

He dreams of one day returning to Mariupol, which fell to the Russians in May, but tries not to think about it too much because it is too painful.

“My soul will calm down when I enter Mariupol – and the Ukrainian flag is flying over it,” he said.


Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine at


Associated Press reporters Vasilisa Stepnenko and Evgeniy Maloletka in Kharkiv contributed. Follow Archirova on—arhirova


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