December 2, 2023

The Rzeszów airport averages 30 flights a day. Many of the new landings are huge cargo jets carrying humanitarian support, artillery munitions and even battle tanks for Ukraine

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RZESZÓW, Poland – Together with medical care, Mateusz Stojanowicz is hoping to provide his sufferers a tiny little bit of normalcy.

Stojanowicz is the medical co-ordinator for a medevac hub run by the Polish Centre for Worldwide Help, which serves as a switch level for sufferers from throughout Ukraine.

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The hub isn’t a lot: a transformed warehouse the place momentary dividers and curtains separate the sufferers’ rooms. However Stojanowicz says they nonetheless discover consolation and security right here.

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“We hear from a lot of them that that is the primary place for a protracted, very long time the place they really feel they’ve regular sleep,” he stated. “They know that is going to be the primary evening the place there can be no rocket assaults.”

Ambulances make the two-hour drive from Lviv in Ukraine to drop off sufferers on the hub funded by the EU, the Polish authorities, and different support teams and charities, situated simply throughout the road from the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport.

The only-runway airport, concerning the dimension you’d discover serving a small Canadian metropolis, is a the attention of the needle by which a lot of the help efforts for Ukraine from NATO allies stream.

Along with the adjoining medevac hub, a number of thousand U.S. troops are stationed on the airport and it’s ringed by Patriot missile batteries, the anti-aircraft weapons meant to make sure it stays protected from any Russian drones or missiles that might goal it.

Mateusz Stojanowicz and Wojciech Soliński.
Mateusz Stojanowicz, proper, and Wojciech Soliński, left, stand in entrance of the medevac hub facility’s bus ambulance on the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland. The ambulance ferries sufferers to the airport from the medevac hub. Photograph by Ryan Tumilty/Nationwide Publish

The medevac hub right here holds about two-dozen sufferers at a time. The sufferers will keep a day, or a number of. Those that want additional care are packed onto an ambulance bus that drives them proper onto the tarmac the place they’re loaded onto one of many a number of medical flights per week that may fly them to a hospital someplace else in Poland.

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The sufferers arrive with extreme burns, damaged bones and in some instances latest amputations, accidents from the conflict that has now been raging for practically 18 months. Nevertheless it doesn’t matter how the trigger, everyone seems to be handled the identical, Stojanowicz stated.

“Now we have sufferers. We don’t actually verify if they’re army or civilian,” Stojanowicz stated. “Now we have sufferers.”

There was a big uptake in demand in latest months — in different phrases, much more casualties — as Ukraine launched its counter-offensive to try to reclaim territory from Russian troops.

Lots of Ukraine’s medial services have been broken within the conflict, generally taking direct hits from Russian missiles, and the nation merely isn’t capable of take care of all of its personal sick and injured. Physicians for Human Rights, a non-government group, estimated that in 2022 there have been 292 assaults on Ukrainian hospitals or clinics and 62 well being staff had been killed.

Consequently, the hub isn’t simply treating conflict wounds, however routine illnesses that Ukraine’s hospitals now battle to deal with.

Stojanowicz’s employees have just lately added extra child-friendly touches to the rooms as pediatric most cancers sufferers have began to reach. Sterile white curtains had been changed with handmade ones patterned with rocket ships and race vehicles. Extra kids’s books, toys and video video games had been added to the ability’s playroom.

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Patriot missile launchers guard the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport.
Patriot missile launchers guard the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland. Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP, File

Many of the hospital rooms are geared up with a further mattress for relations that incessantly accompany the sufferers.

“Sufferers include households and so they don’t wish to be separated and we don’t wish to separate them,” stated Wojciech Soliński the ability’s deputy medical co-ordinator. “We would like them to really feel protected and really feel regular for a second.”

Soliński stated sufferers who’re launched from the ability are usually not compelled to return to Ukraine, however most sufferers wish to go residence as quickly as they’re ready.

“They need actually badly to return and so they don’t really feel afraid of what’s occurring. They only wish to be with their households of their homeland,” Soliński stated.

The flights coming from the medevac hub are only a fraction of the elevated demand the Rzeszów airport now has to accommodate. Michal Tabisz, vice-president of the airport, stated that earlier than the conflict the it handled between 10 and 15 flights a day, principally brief flights to locations in Poland or to trip spots in Europe.

At the moment it averages 30 flights a day. Many of the new landings are huge cargo jets carrying humanitarian support, artillery munitions and even battle tanks for Ukraine.

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Tabisz is now taking a look at upgrading the airport’s runways and is at the moment increasing gas storage, which has been pushed to its limits by the conflict.

A truck with supplies for Ukraine in an aid warehouse.
A UN Refugee Company employees member hundreds a truck with provides for Ukraine in an support warehouse at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland. Photograph by Petros Giannakouris/AP, File

He stated it’s not simply the elevated quantity of planes coming in, however the kind of plane. The small passenger jets the airport noticed earlier than the conflict require a fraction of the gas that the jumbo cargo jets tackle.

“The weekly provide of gas is eaten by one jumbo, and we had as much as 10 in per day,” he stated.

Tabisz stated he lets his new American companions stationed on the airport fear about safety from Russian arms, however his facility has employed extra guards and invested in its personal cyber defences as a result of he is aware of the airport is a high-value goal.

This week, Poland introduced it might droop a few of its personal army support to Ukraine resulting from a dispute over grain shipments, though the federal government stated in a press release that shipments from allies by Rzeszów will proceed and can reside as much as the army commitments it has already made.

The airport has a small VIP terminal, not a lot bigger than a small boardroom, designed with native dignitaries and the odd billionaire in thoughts. Because the conflict started, it has performed host to U.S. President Joe Biden, Prince William, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and different world leaders.

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Tabisz stated he as soon as had the prospect to fulfill Trudeau, however Bono and the Edge from the rock band U2 arrived on the airport on the identical day, and he had to decide on.

“Sorry, however I went to Bono, and we had a really good chat,” he stated.

Previous to the conflict, the U.S. had shipped some army gadgets by the airport, so it was a well-recognized hub. When Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, the U.S. determined shortly to make Rzeszów the transit level for army gear.

“There have been no alternate options at the moment that they may check as a result of there was no time for testing,” Tabisz stated.

Canada’s Defence Division confirmed it has flown into Rzeszów with provides for Ukraine from an airport in Scotland, however declined to supply any particulars concerning the deliveries, citing a necessity for confidentiality to make sure safety.

Tabisz stated it has been a problem to maintain up with all the brand new calls for, however everybody on the airport is happy with what they’re doing to to assist the Ukrainians and simply desires to do what they’ll to convey the conflict to an finish extra shortly.

“It was unprovoked and subsequently, if we may help them by some means, by what we do, we should always do it,” he stated.

Nationwide Publish
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Nationwide Publish travelled to Poland on a journalists’ tour as a visitor of the Polish authorities, which sponsored the prices of the journey. The federal government had no involvement in editorial selections.

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