Two doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital made videos to show Ukrainians how to recognize and react to life-threatening bleeding.
The last two weeks of fighting in Ukraine have inspired countless support and awareness efforts, mostly in the form of fundraisers and marches. But two local doctors are going a different direction, using their expertise to help save lives abroad.
Brigham and Women’s oncology surgeon and Ukrainian native Dr. Nelya Melnitchouk is using her medical experience and first language to teach Ukrainians how to save people wounded in the ongoing war.
Melnitchouk, along with Dr. Eric Goralnick, a Brigham emergency physician, filmed two educational videos with the goal of educating Ukrainians about controlling bleeding.
“I just felt like this education for lay people in Ukrainian is of most importance at this point,” Melnitchouk told Boston.com. “We created a video in Ukrainian. Initially we were thinking we could just translate what’s available in English, but then I realized I actually speak Ukrainian.”
The videos were Melnitchouk’s idea, and Goralnick helped organize a collaboration with Stop the Bleed, a national initiative that aims to educate regular people on how to prevent life-threatening blood loss.
There are two versions of the video, one more detailed 4-and-a-half minute long video and another 39-second video. The videos are narrated by Melnitchouk in Ukrainian, while Goralnick demonstrates on a mannequin how to apply pressure to a wound, pack material into the opening, and apply a tourniquet.
“The goal of the project is to empower and educate the public in recognizing life-threatening bleeding, apply pressure, pack a wound or apply a tourniquet,” Goralnick said. “These skills were developed in the early 90s within the U.S. military, what was called tactical combat casualty care, and then over time, have transitioned into the civilian space.”
Goralnick said the life-saving techniques have also been relevant at tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy Hook shooting.
“It started on the battlefield, and it’s coming back to the battlefield in this case because our goal was to make these videos so that they can be readily available to Ukrainians in Ukrainian, to rapidly educate themselves and empower them to save lives,” he said.
The videos are a part of the Stop the Bleed initiative, which is funded by the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The methods the initiative uses are built on medical advances made by the United States military, Goralnick said.
“Those skills reduced battlefield deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan by 67% over the course of the decades, saving thousands of lives,” said Goralnick, who is Stepping Strong’s military-citizen adviser. “These skills were born on the battlefield so these skills can be taught to anyone, and we really hope that we can support Ukrainians with these skills to save their colleagues.”
The videos are posted on the hospital’s YouTube channel and will be shared through social media, websites, colleagues, and other organizations.
The effort is personal for both doctors.
Melnitchouk emigrated from Ukraine when she was 18 years old and she still has many close friends and family there, while Goralnick’s grandparents are from Ukraine.
Melnitchouk is also the founder of a non-profit platform called the Global Medical Knowledge Alliance, which educates physicians and patients in Ukraine. She said the alliance is also raising funds to provide basic medical equipment and funds to help support patients receiving cancer treatments.
“Even if this video can save one life, I accomplished my goal,” Melnitchouk said. “I hope that there will be more lives saved. I hope that it will empower lay people to know what to do because it is straightforward — you have to put the pressure, you have to hold the pressure, you can put a tourniquet on … The goal is to empower them to save life. And it’s not rocket science, anybody can do it.”