The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 24 June that the British Army and its partners from Netherlands and Iceland are training Ukrainian combat medics in a first of its kind programme.

The first of three cohorts of approximately 50 Ukrainian defence personnel began the five week combat medic course on 29 May.

The curriculum, aimed at both combat medics with experience and those new to the role, is a combination of battlefield first aid and instruction in weapons handling, fieldcraft, patrol tactics and the Law of Armed Conflict, with emphasis on how trainees can optimise their own health so they are fit to fight.

“The Ukrainian students are keen to learn and absolutely dedicated to gaining as many skills as they can before returning home to save life. The vast majority have been actively involved on the battlefield and many carry the wounds of war,” said Captain Phil Williams of 2nd Medical Brigade, who is the course director for this initiative.

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“They are an absolute pleasure to teach, and such is the nature of their recent experience, we learn as much from them as they do from us,” continued Williams.

Under practice battlefield scenarios, trainees are put the test, applying skills for triaging casualties tied a range of different medical issues, and treating casualties with major injuries caused by blasts and small arms fire. This includes critical techniques including controlling heavy blood loss and giving crucial pre-hospital emergency care.

During these practical battlefield exercises, the trainees will also have to practice treating and extracting patients from vehicles, and extracting casualties under fire.

Medical provision to Ukraine

More than 17,000 personnel have been trained to date by the UK and its allies, for a variety of battlefield roles. The UK government has so far committed £4.5bn of military aid to Ukraine and supplied 10,000 anti-tank missiles, 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, self-propelled artillery, and air defences that include mire than a hundred anti-aircraft guns, according to an MoD release.

The conclusion of combat medical training for the first cohort of trainees was announced days after the Ukraine Recovery Conference, held in London on 21-22 June, where a coalition of national governments and civil society raise more than $60bn in international commitments for the support of Ukraine’s recovery and development.

Ukraine has recently be in receipt of a number of field hospitals donated from across Europe, with two Rheinmetall produced Forward Surgical Team stations donated by Germany to provide , scheduled to arrive late 2023 or early 2024, and a number of Role 2 Field hospitals donated by Estonia, Iceland, and Spain.

Role 2 support is usually provided at Brigade or larger unit level, but it may be provided further forward depending on operational requirements. It will provide triage and resuscitation, treatment and holding of patients until they can return to duty or evacuate.