Warsaw train crew cross border to rescue 600 from war-torn Ukraine
A newly fitted-out medical rescue train arrived in Warsaw from Ukraine Sunday with 600 refugees after its crew abandoned a training simulation when it saw the scale of need inside the war-torn country.
Setting off on Saturday with humanitarian aid, food, medicines and medical equipment as part of a practice run for evacuating Ukraine’s wounded, when the crew arrived in Mostyska just a few kilometres from the Medyka border they were horrified by what they found.
Seeing thousands of refugees waiting to leave the war-torn country, the train's crew decided to turn their practice into reality and take as many as possible to safety in Poland.
Dr Artur Zaczyński, head of the National Hospital at the national stadium in Warsaw, who was on the train, said: “It was supposed to be a simulation of taking people to the temporary hospital at the National Stadium, which is being prepared to receive the injured.
“In Mostyska, we gathered women with children and elderly people who were fleeing. In total, we evacuated over 600 people.”
Most of the 250 women with 350 children disembarked in Przemyśl, which has become a transit point for reaching other destinations, and some in Lublin.
About 140 mothers with children continued their journey and arrived at Warsaw’s East Station just before 13.00 yesterday afternoon.
The train’s passengers were examined by doctors on the Polish side of the border, but none of them needed serious medical attention.
One of the train’s passengers, Oksana from Lviv, said: “I am touched by the help of Poles, by your openness, thank you for everything.”
Tatiana from the north of Ukraine said: “Explosions could be heard everywhere, our soldiers are fighting, let's hope we win.”
Gala, who arrived in Warsaw with two daughters and three granddaughters, said: “We came from Kiev, our husbands stayed there. They guard the flats, all our belongings.”
“We have no one in Poland, but I already know that there are people here who will take care of us. Thank you very much for that,” she added.
The specially adapted train has been organised by the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw. It has four carriages fitted out to carry and treat 160 wounded people, 80 of them in beds.
On future missions, the train will stop on the edge of Warsaw from where ambulances will take the wounded to the temporary National Hospital at the national stadium.
After diagnosis, they will then be taken to specialist hospitals for further treatment.
Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said that 120 hospitals in Poland will treat the injured from Ukraine.
“We have about seven thousand beds designated for people who require surgical or orthopaedic operations as well as those with burns who need help.”