There are days in Bakhmut that are more difficult than others – although no day is easy in this battered city.

Once home to 100,000 people, it is now a military objective for the Russian army, the gateway to the main industrial cities of the East Ukraine.

But the city has become a major obstacle for Russian generals, who are pounding its neighborhoods with rockets and shells.

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The city’s paramedics are coping with the human consequences, and we followed them to the outskirts of Bakhmut, several kilometers from the front line.

Paramedics found a woman lying on the side of the road with clouds of smoke billowing behind her.

His chest was bleeding and the toes of his shoes had been ripped off.

“Take my leg,” she shouted before calling out to her partner. “Wow! »

“Just a minute, Rimma, they’ll help you,” he replied.

“The earth shook when the explosives hit – I dived for cover”

This quarter, like many others in Bakhmut, was heavily shelled by the Russians – and as the crew began to treat their patient, another air attack began.

We heard a series of rhythmic explosions, the sound rising in intensity. The earth shook as the explosives hit the ground, and plumes of smoke resembling phosphorus rose into the air.

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I dived for cover behind a brick wall while my colleague, Ronnie Dewhurst, filmed the ambulance crew.

In his footage, we see paramedics pause briefly as the strike nears, spilling onto the ground. But they did not leave the injured woman – and quickly returned to her side.

Seeking protection from attacks, we left the scene, but returned to the town’s modest ambulance station later that day.

“It’s critical – his hip has been inverted”

We found one of the attendants, called Vlad, who had treated the woman, and he told us that Rimma was unwell.

“It’s critical, it’s his head, his leg, a displaced fracture. His hip was inverted, (it’s) not good.”

“What did you see, what did you hear? I asked.

“Explosions, although I was focusing on the woman. I started bandaging her, and the explosions started, and everyone took cover, but luckily I had time to start hard and I finished it in the car,” Vlad replied.

Vlad was one of the emergency responders
Image:
Vlad was one of the emergency responders

“I gave him painkillers, we did everything to tell the truth, despite the bombardments.”

“When the rockets fell, you didn’t run away, you stayed with her,” I said.

“If not me, who? It’s very simple, someone has to do it,” he replied.

This city was shattered, sliced ​​and bludgeoned in less than a month of fierce fighting. Residential blocks were pierced by artillery shells and streets were pockmarked with missile craters.

But there are people in Bakhmut trying to save their town, no matter how the frontline develops.

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