Ukraine

Medway Man Leads Team of Russian-Speaking Medics Helping Ukrainians in Poland

Alexander Smirnov of Medway, Massachusetts, has been treating refugees who have crossed from Ukraine into Poland, and while many have been in need of medical attention, the war's psychological toll on people is what has struck him

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Volunteers from the U.S. are using their skills to help Ukrainian refugees who have crossed into Poland.

A paramedic from Medway, Massachusetts, is there helping to provide first aid to people escaping the war.

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In the week that he's been there, Alexander Smirnov has seen thousands of refugees come to what was once a shopping mall, but is now a medical station.

Some have arrived with hypothermia, while others have wounds in need of medical attention. But what has struck him is the psychological toll war is having on so many people.

Smirnov is leading a team of Russian-speaking medics from around the world volunteering to help. He was born in Russia and trained there in disaster response.
His connection with the people, and his ability to speak the language, helps meet their greatest need.

"They come in very psychologically wounded, so they not only need to to get treatment for, like, blisters, for cold," Smirnov said, "they need heart therapy. Literally, they need somebody who will listen to their experience, and literally gives them a hug."

In Massachusetts, Smirnov's daughter, Maria, is helping coordinate the next wave of volunteers.

"People just want to go back to their homes, and they can't," said Maria Smirnov. "They can't. So the best thing that I can do is help the people who are over there, doing the real work, taking care of the ones who just — they don't know where to go. Where do you go when your home is ruined?"

"They are wounded, they're going to be wounded for the rest of their life," Alexander Smirnov said. "And nobody — nobody deserves to go through this. Nobody."

Smirnov's team has been in Poland since last weekend and will be there for two more weeks before another team of volunteers takes its place. The members say support from the community helps keep them going.

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