When the Ukrainian Women’s Guard extended an invitation for a survival and self-defense training course, 700 women signed up. But the room in the Kiev City Council, where the training was scheduled for Saturday, could only accommodate up to 300 people, so more dates were added.
The women studied everything from how to pack an emergency bag, where to get necessary supplies and how to stop the bleeding.
At one point, one of the coaches, Oleksandr Biletskiy, started talking about surviving in a city cut off from basic services, telling the attendees that it was time to make plans with their neighbors.
Decide how to divide the tasks. “Who will cook, who will take care of the elderly, who will be with the children,” said Beltsky, a military expert.
He went on to state the importance of maintaining good hygiene in field conditions: locate the toilet, keep litter in bags, and, in the worst case, be prepared to bury the dead quickly. At one point, he said, in a crisis situation, burying people vertically could save space and time.
Natalia Skryabina, a 36-year-old animator, attended rehearsals because she wanted to prepare for a crisis, whether it was a natural disaster or war.
We cannot predict what will happen on the other side. Here in Kiev, we still feel very far from it, but people in the East speak differently, because they have already experienced it, and they know anything can happen,” she said.
“Eight years ago, no one expected something like this to happen,” she said, referring to the war in the east and Russia’s decision to annex Crimea.
Scriabina said that after a friend told her about the course, she read notes written by people who had previously attended.
But this taught me more about how to think about crises. How to be prepared and how to keep calm,” she said, adding that she was using training to make sure she was prepared for any eventuality. “I will buy a fire extinguisher now,” she said.
During hands-on self-defense, two women practice using their hands to dodge a potential aggressor.
“Never make a fist. It does not work, you will break your fingers, use your palm,” Viktor Krevsky, one of the instructors, told the women gathered in the ornate hall.
Yulia Kasaeva contributed to this report.
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