Improving medevac times a must to help Ukrainian soldiers survive, officials say

Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the medical training component of Canada’s military assistance mission in Ukraine will make a real and substantive difference for the country’s battered army.

KYIV, Ukraine — Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the medical training component of Canada’s military assistance mission in Ukraine will make a real and substantive difference for the country’s battered army.

Kenney says there will be a particular focus on improving casualty evacuation, which is vital in the survival rates of wounded soldiers.

Ukrainian defence officials acknowledge privately that many injured troops take longer than the so-called “golden hour” to get to field hospitals, but say it’s because medevac helicopters can’t safely land nearby.

Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists have anti-aircraft weapons and say they’re willing to use them against mercy flights.

The officials, who were not authorized to speak to the media, say their challenge is to get the wounded to a safe distance, which can be up to two kilometres away.

They say four-wheel all-terrain utility vehicles like those Canada used to move casualties and supplies in Afghanistan would help save more lives.