Medics brave rockets near Ukraine frontline

STORY: The thud of distant shells punctuates the quiet of the operating room.

The doctors work on, unfazed. This emergency unit for soldiers lies near the Zaporizhzhia frontline in Ukraine's south.

Denys, who gives only his first name, runs the center, known as a stabilization point. Similar stations are found near all Ukrainian frontlines.

“We never know when the work will come or the scope of it. We are in a state of constant readiness. We are prepared for events of any kind: be it day or night, be it a big or small number of wounded. When required, we're ready to give the help needed to save the lives and health of our boys.”

Their job is to perform emergency first aid so patients survive the journey to hospitals further away.

A task likely to become still more vital when Ukraine launches its long-awaited counteroffensive.

Another surgeon, Ihor, shows Reuters the unit's underground shelter as shells thump above ground.

A doctor with 15 years of experience as an army medic, Ihor said artillery accounted for about 90% of injuries he had dealt with since Russia invaded last February.

“We've come down here three times this week already. There was a rocket strike – three rockets hit nearby. There were air strikes, artillery strikes, last Thursday or Friday.”

There have been near misses.

In March, a Russian rocket landed 10 meters from the entrance, showering glass and chunks of brick onto the operating tables.

Ukraine shrouds details of its wartime casualties in secrecy.

The doctors would not say how many soldiers they treat or whether the number has changed over time.