Susan Duehrssen, RN
‘Radical Rescue’ Mission Team Responds to Ukraine Crisis
Twelve days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Dr. Michael Duehrssen, a life-long emergency physician with rescue task force and tactical team training and experience, deployed with a nine member medical team for Ukraine. Having led large medical groups into remote areas of underdeveloped countries on many occasions over the past 15 years, it seemed to him the natural thing to do.
Several years after starting his career in emergency medicine, Duehrssen had a deep desire to provide young people with the opportunity he wished he could have had — funneling a love of adventure into helping others. God directed that desire into the development of the International Rescue and Relief Program at Union College. It was one of Duehrssen’s former students, a graduate from the IRR Program, that prompted Duehrssen to respond to Ukraine. Kory Meidell, a leader in the Christian disaster response organization Gideon Rescue Company, called at 5:00 a.m. Sabbath morning. It was day six of the war. Kory was in Ukraine and eager to share with Michael how his team was responding to the people’s needs in their desperate hour. Kory encouraged his former professor to respond, too. After their long conversation, Duehrssen was eager to investigate if there was a way his skill set could be useful.
Within three days of that unexpected call, Duehrssen had made contact with Dr. Yury Bondarenko, an Adventist psychiatrist in Ukraine and director of Angelia Clinic in Kyiv. Dr. Yury confirmed there were needs for which a medical team could provide assistance. A wide variety of basic medications and supplies were desperately needed.
Tactical medical training to territory defense units deploying to the front lines was urgently desired. Mobile medical clinics to refugee camps located throughout the Chernivtsi region were also an imminent need. Everyone of these needs matched Duehrssen’s skill set, experience and resource connections. He was ready to move forward.
In the interim of those three days, Duehrssen also received phone calls and personal inquiries from medical professionals across the country. People were inquiring if he had plans to deploy and asked if they could join his team. Family members and colleagues, both near and far, heard about his plans and volunteered to assist him in urgently acquiring everything from tourniquets and bandages to antibiotics and suture under the umbrella of his non-profit organization, Radical Rescue. God’s inspiration and orchestration was obvious in the cascade effect of so many people coming together — largely unsolicited — to help.
Within five days of Meidell’s prompting call from Ukraine, a team of nine, comprised of physicians, nurses, a paramedic, an EMT, an EMR, a medical student and a chaplain/interpreter, with more than 18 trunks of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and hygiene items, began departing for Ukraine.
Dr. Yury coordinated the medical team’s transportation across the Romanian border into Ukraine. Angelia Clinic’s medical director Dr. Serhii Serdenicek coordinated the assembly of multiple large groups for training in tactical medicine, distribution of 100 tactical medical kits to soldiers, arrangement of mobile medical clinics at several remote refugee camp locations and restocking and distribution of the extensive pharmaceutical, medical and hygiene supplies the team brought with them.
An additional evidence of divine orchestration was realized when a group of nine volunteers from Weimar, California, under the direction of John Peacock, arrived in Ukraine at the same time. This team’s purpose was to aid those traumatically displaced by the war with emotional and spiritual support. The healing ministry of this group was profoundly evident as they worked alongside the medical team.
If God has placed on your heart the desire to be of service, He will certainly lead the way for you to make a difference. As there is no assurance for any of our futures, be prepared mentally, spiritually and physically for any possible scenario, particularly if God is directing you to an area of instability. Should you find yourself being directed to serve in Ukraine, you will find your brothers and sisters in Christ there to be an incredible inspiration and blessing as they are indeed a model of true Christian service.
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