May 6, 2022

Together we are Intensive Care

ESICM mobilises online resources to support Ukraine’s ICU staff as they adapt to conflict


In the first weeks of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Ukrainian ICUs were faced with a series of challenges with severe casualties and supply chains posing a dangerous dynamic. The European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) believes strongly that all must be done to support Ukraine’s ICU staff.

ESICM has been quick to mobilise its resources in response to calls and to specific requests from doctors and healthcare workers on the ground in Ukraine. On a weekly basis, webinars tackling the treatment of casualties have been broadcast and are free to access to all. Solidarity has been the key value of ESICM’s response to several healthcare crises during recent years from sepsis in low and middle income countries to COVID and now the war in Ukraine. The so-called ‘Alive Solidarity’ series of interactive webinars brings together experts in fields related to wartime injuries amongst other relevant topics to provide actionable medical insights to those who need it most.

Aside from supporting ICU professionals directly, the interactive webinars provide key skills to medical professionals not usually working in ICUs, training them to be able to supplement ICU teams struggling with waves of critically ill victims of war. The webinars have addressed a broad range of topics including triage, battlefield treatment, hemorrhagic shock and even hypothermia which doctors have reported in patients having been forced to flee conflict zones in winter conditions. To ensure the availability of as much essential information as possible, the key event in Alive Solidarity was a marathon interactive webinar lasting over 4 hours addressing taking care of victims of blasts or chemical-related injuries, the refugee crisis and COVID in low and middle-income countries. A particularly moving intervention during this event was the first-hand testimony of Ukrainian doctors working on the frontline, some of which have since been published in the form of papers in the Society’s ‘Intensive Care Medicine’ journal. Cumulatively, the Alive Solidarity series, the Marathon and the individual webinars, have so far a reach of over 25 thousand.

In addition to specialised webinars, ESICM has also given Ukrainian doctors full access to all online training available on ESICM’s online platform, ensuring full availability of crucial intensive care knowledge whenever and wherever it might be needed.

More crucial than any training to the growing health crisis posed by the war in Ukraine is the implementation of humanitarian corridors, an essential element in the treatment and indeed prevention
of casualties. This has been reiterated by ESICM, joining with the European Commission in similar calls for humanitarian corridors.

“We are immensely proud to be able to provide medical professionals with whatever support we can through webinars and online resources, addressing the acute gap in knowledge and skills in treating trauma victims in Ukraine’s ICUs. ESICM is also very grateful to learn from frontline workers sharing
the experience with us and the rest of the world.” stated ESICM President, Prof. Maurizio Cecconi, adding that “ESICM joins in the calls of millions of world citizens for Russia to put a stop to this war, and urges the respect of international humanitarian law to allow for the treatment of the wounded and for the evacuation of innocent civilians.”

Webinars from the Alive Solidarity series addressing the conflict in Ukraine are openly available on ESICM’s YouTube channel.

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