March 25, 2023

KHArkIV, Ukraine (AP) — For 22 days, Serhiy Chornobryvets barely slept and rarely took off his red paramedic uniform. He ran around the clock in his hometown of Mariupol, rescuing people injured by Russian bombs and shells that hit the southern Ukrainian city.

When he finally fled Mariupol – where the inhabitants suffered the worst of the war during the nearly three-month siege – He still hasn’t rested. Instead, he joined an organization that sends medical personnel to the front lines in eastern Ukraine, where fighting is currently concentrated.

“The me before Mariupol and the me after what happened: these are two different people,” the scrawny, fresh-faced 24-year-old said in a recent interview with the Associated Press in Kharkiv. Kharkiv was another city that was heavily bombed.

“If I hadn’t survived Mariupol, I wouldn’t be a paramedic right now. I wouldn’t have been brave enough,” explains Chornobryvets, who is known simply as “Mariupol” on the battlefield , now wearing a yellow anchor with the symbol of the port city on his camouflage uniform.

In fact, he sees no other way to understand the horrors he is witnessing in a place that has become a global symbol of Ukrainian resistance Invasion of Russia.Residents were ruthlessly bombedmany are trapped without food, water, heat or electricity.

“It’s like going back to the Stone Age,” Chornobryvets said. “There’s looting, constant shelling, planes, aerial bombardment. People around us are crazy, but we keep working.”

While many hid in basements or bomb shelters, Chornobryvets said he never did. He stayed on the ground to care for the wounded – while risking his life. He finally escaped on March 18 — his birthday — still in his red paramedic overalls.

His tireless efforts were publicly praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the then leader accept the award In May, from the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, representing the people of Ukraine.

Chornobryvets said his new job at the front was almost the same as what he was doing in Mariupol: “Same wound, just I’m wearing a different uniform.”

In footage from July, he and his paramedics can be seen rushing towards a soldier hit by Russian artillery fire. They tied a tourniquet to the man’s right thigh, then carefully smoothed the open wounds that exposed bone on his arms and legs.

He’s still a year away from graduating college — but refuses to make plans for the future. Until the war was won, he vowed to stay on the battlefield.

“Medicine is my life and my job is to save people,” Chornobryvets said.

He dreams of one day returning to Mariupol, which fell into the hands of the Russians in May, but he tries not to think too much about it because it’s too painful.

“My soul will calm down when I enter Mariupol – the Ukrainian flag is flying on it,” he said.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine war at


Associated Press reporters Vasilisa Stepnenko and Evgeniy Maloletka in Kharkiv contributed.Follow Akilova

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