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GUARDIANS OF LIFE: PARAMEDICSMy interlocutors are some of the paramedics in the field hospital, the fighters of our “white” army, whose work is beyond all appreciation. During the war, they were the first to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield to the field hospital for first aid. In one of the hottest directions of the battlefield, in the liberated hospital in Ishkhanadzor, then in Kubatlu, and in the last days of the war, near Khndzoresk, they performed, arguably, the most humanitarian mission. Sometimes individually, sometimes side by side, they helped each other on the brink of death and life while fighting for the lives and health of warriors. It happened that about 20 times a day they rushed to rescue the wounded and evacuate them from the danger zones.

… I met the boys at the Central Clinical Military Hospital. In peacetime, their medical battalion is stationed here. The conversation started with Sergeant Narek Mkrtchyan, a paramedic in the evacuation squad. Soon his comrades-in-arms Hovhannes Antonyan, Mher Mheryan and Edgar Tsrnverants approached us in the yard of the hospital.

Narek begins to tell his story about the war. He looks very young. He talks about his “adventures” with humor. The eyes are constantly smiling, but in them there is a mark of sadness of a person who has seen destruction and pain. He was born in Masis. In 2014, he was admitted to the medical platoon of the Peacekeeping Forces as a paramedic. In October 2019, he left for the United States for “Combat Therapist” courses.

“Courses are courses,” he says, “but what we saw during this war was not provided for in any course.” On the 28th we reached Ishkhanadzor. We thought we would set up tents, but when we saw the drones constantly spinning above our heads, we realized that this would be the immediate target. The building of Ishkhanadzor outpatient clinic was completely at our disposal. We set up the operating room, the sorting and resuscitation rooms, and … “the movie started,” smiles Narek. We could not have imagined the days after that, when that hospital would no longer operate, how busy we would be working. We would receive 100-130 wounded a day.

“What gave you strength in those days?” I ask Narek.

GUARDIANS OF LIFE: PARAMEDICS“First of all, that you save the lives of your compatriots. For example, a bomb exploded nearby. Won’t you let the wounded one run away? Regardless of yourself, you become more resilient, calmer. We were a paramedic, but we also had surgery, we helped in the resuscitation room. We were doing small surgeries in the corridors. We removed debris when there was no room in the operating room.

… We brought 18-19 year old soldiers to look like heroes out of a fairy tale. They encouraged and empowered us. The soldier who lost one hand said: “Please, sew my hand, let me go, let me fight!” Somehow we kept. “Dear, wait, where are you going like this?”

There were some surprising injuries. We brought a conscript from Davtashen. They shot him in the head, the bullet went under his skin, just behind his forehead, and there were no serious injuries. It was a miracle.”

I especially remember one of the hardest cases, which fortunately ended well. The wreckage was stuck in the hemispheres of the soldier’s head, but consciousness was in place. On the way back, I held his head firmly, squeezing so that the shards of the car would not move and damage the centers. I did it, the boy survived. I do not want to remember the details and I will not tell, but this was one of the cases of being miraculously saved…

A 35-year-old soldier was taken to hospital and lost both legs. He was very heavy. We could not get him out of the car with a few people to put him on a stretcher. His willpower, his supernatural will to survive, was amazing. He saw that we were having a hard time, after losing so much blood he stretched and with the help of his hands he lifted his body and placed it on the stretcher. We somehow took the four-person stretcher to the operating room…

Our staff, from drivers to doctors, are unique people. We mainly went out with two drivers, Levon and Sergey. They are professional drivers, hero boys. There are many interesting stories about Lyon, others will testify. He is a 20-25 year old boy from Davtashen. He is married but has no children yet. He was always ahead of us during the exits. Once Levon went to the exit with Mher Mheryan, one of our nurses, and let’s see if Mher is driving and brings the wounded. We were worried. “What happened? Our driver was not hit, was he?” Let’s see if Lher is coming after Mher with Ural. On the way they met the wounded driver of Ural and another wounded man. They were put in a jeep, and Levon drove the Ural.

In the first days it was constantly raining on the road. The car became sticky mud, the car often got stuck, especially on the road to Jrakan. One day, with six wounded in a car, I was coming back at night when we were buried in the mud. It was good, I met Hovik. He took his wounded, then came and took my wounded. Later, they dragged us in a big car and took us to Levon, I don’t know where they got the rope from.

Narek shows some of the photos that show the rare moments of the break in Ishkhanadzor.

“We smile as if we are not there or we are in the rest zone,” he continues. “Humor saved us in the most difficult moments. We had already moved from Ishkhanadzor to Sanasar. It was the first day, it was calm. We had no way out for two hours. Suddenly, two very low planes, just 5 meters above the ground, flew overhead at high speed. One of our nurses, Artyom Manukyan, was “blindfolded” at that moment. He was sleeping under the wall. The other paramdic, Gago Movsisyan, shouted. “Guys, they are planes. What do we know? They are ours, they are theirs. We started to run away like this, looking for a hiding place. Artyom jumped out of the terrible noise, still not sure what was going on, he hit his head hard on the wall. We were protected from this unexpected attack of the planes, but when we realized that they were our planes, how could we laugh at Artyom’s “unsuccessful” flight…

One day, when we were already in Sanasar, they told us that the situation in Jrakan was bad. I, Levon, Hovhannes went out with another driver, Gevorg. On the way, the wheel of our car broke, we stopped to change the wheel. We were in a place called Karenavan between Sanasar and Jrakan. In the hiding place under the shelling, our drivers started to deal with the wheel. Every minute was precious. Hovik said. “Let the drivers deal with your car, and we will not waste time. I will drive the other car, let’s go and get the boys out. “Fifteen wounded were reported in that direction. We went and reached the gates of “hell”, later we named this place that way,” Narek tells this part of his story with laughter and humor, and I can already clearly see the gates of “hell”.

“Our cannons were in that place. The enemy knew the places and took the terrible shelling. We entered the epicenter of the right shelling with our giant Uaz. All four are bombs that exploded. Of course, prayer was always on your mind in those days, but here I have already started asking God for forgiveness of sins, so that at least we will go to heaven after death, at least something good will happen in life,” Narek remembers with humor and his calm smile. “It was from God that our car remained unharmed. When we got there, only a few of our fighting boys were left standing, and they were fighting with guns. The others were injured. We quickly put them in the car. It was impossible to help them on the spot. We had to leave the gates of “hell” a second ago. Our Hovik, in addition to being a good paramedic, is also a wonderful driver. Our Uaz was “flying” through mountains and valleys. I was trying to joke. “Hovo dear, either the enemy will hit our car, or we will explode on a mine, or you will take us to the world. In that difficult situation, one of the wounded shouted, “Narek!” I looked at the voice, the face was very familiar, but I did not bring the place. He said. “We served together as soldiers.” I laughed, “Dude, were we going to meet in this tight spot?” He came voluntarily. He was injured in both legs, but the injuries were not serious. we would not lose a foot…

On the way we heard rumors that the enemy had already entered Ishkhanadzor. It was dangerous to stop. We quickly reached Ishkhanadzor and had to leave in three hours. The information was correct… When we left, we constantly met our soldiers on the way. They almost threw themselves under the car, they warned. “Suddenly do not go straight and left. You will only go to the right, otherwise you will be blocked.”

It was the third day we were in Jrakan. I went to bring the wounded, a few minutes later our nurse Asaturyan Manuk came. We received information about the wounded, but it was not confirmed. We expected to take them with us if there were any wounded. Suddenly we felt the enemy planes take off. We only heard the terrible sound of bombing. We hid in “Aircraft parallel to the planes” rotating drones. When the drone was just flying, it sounded like a fly, and when it had to explode, the sound got louder. You could even hear it two kilometers away. We used to say, “Death is approaching.” That day we deceived death.

Then we came to Sanasar, then to Khndzoresk. It was mostly quiet in Khndzoresk. I was scared only once. We went to the checkpoint between Khndzoresk and Sanasar. It was night. The reconnaissance drones began to spin over our heads. Their buzz is slow, can only be heard in silence. The coordinates report the artillery, and the latter begins to strike. It started a few minutes later … It was as if they were hitting with Smerch, attack drones and artillery. I entered the trench. The ground scattered around all four of the explosions covered my head and feet, burying me alive. A truck loeaded with shells was parked near the checkpoint.”

Buried under the ground like this, I was asking in my mind, “Dear God, just so that it does not touch the truck.” Everything was going to disappear in a kilometer. A thought was running through my head. Two days later, on November 1, is my fiancé’s birthday. Will she not receive a “paper” instead of a birthday greeting?

“Are you engaged?”
” Yes, to Milena, and we got engaged in the summer of 2020. We got acquainted, we met for two months, I went to the USA for a seven-month course. I stayed another month because of the epidemic. I came back, we met for a few more months, got engaged, and … the war broke out in the middle. We haven’t seen each other for three months because of that. “We waited like this,” Narek continued, spicing up his contagious smile. “I called my fiancé once when our artillery suddenly started working.” A good rumble was heard, Milena immediately became worried. “What happened? What happened? Tell me.” “Nothing, I closed the car door a little tighter.”

During the war, one day I only came as a surprise, congratulated her on her birthday, and left the next day. She did not know that I would come. I would call from the road, hear the sound of the car, ask, “Where are you?” I would say, “I am taking the wounded to the hospital.” Meanwhile, I was already in Armenia. When I was on their street, I called again. The mood was bad. I said. “Okay, nothing, now I’ll lift your spirits.” But it still did not occur to her. At midnight I entered their house with balloons, lit candles on the cake, with champagne. “Why did you hang your snouts?” You do not know, even if it is from hell, I will come to you, just so you do not grieve.”

At that moment, Hovhannes Antonyan, a nurse, senior sergeant, about whom Narek had already told some things, approached and joined our conversation …

To be continued


Category: #08 (1379) 03.03.2021 - 09.03.2021, National army, News, Spotlight