“Ukrainians are fighting for our common security”: Czechia sends mobile ICU unit to Ukraine

Mobile ICU bus

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Czechia has deployed a mobile ICU bus to be used across Ukraine to provide medical aid to those in need. I spoke to Petr Gandalovič, Director of the Department of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, about the purpose the bus will serve, and its symbolism for Czechia’s ongoing support of Ukraine.

Petr Gandalovič  (right) during an inspection of the mobile ICU unit with Jan Lipavský | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“The bus is a mobile ICU unit, and we can imagine it as a moving hospital.

“It will be used in different places in the Zhytomyr region in Ukraine, and it will be used wherever it will be needed in that region.

“I don’t know exactly where it will be stationed, I believe that it won’t be stationed in one place, it will definitely move to places where it’s necessary.”

Is this project in cooperation with NGOs in Czechia?

Mobile ICU bus | Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,  Czech Radio

“It’s in cooperation with an NGO in Ukraine in the region.

“It’s one specific system that we actually cooperate with, it’s an NGO in Ukraine that has specified their needs.

“The manufacturer, together with other suppliers have designed the bus exactly how it was asked by the NGO.”

Of course this is a big gesture to Ukraine that Czechia is standing with the country and supporting them. Aside from this effort, what has Czechia been doing to support Ukraine since the war began last February?

Jan Lipavský getting on the ICU bus | Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,  Czech Radio

“Exactly as you said, we started pretty much as early as Putin invaded Ukraine. We started delivering medical supplies, it was the first thing that was needed.

“Then we moved to IDP’s - internally displaced persons accommodation units so that we would allow people who were fleeing from the war zone in the east of Ukraine to stay in Ukraine perhaps in the west part and not to be forced to leave the country.

“Remember that here in Czechia we actually have hosted more than half a million Ukrainians, many of them have returned which means that it was part of our effort to make it possible for these IDPs to stay in Ukraine.

“When Putin started bombing energy infrastructure, what we called ‘winterization’ was needed.

Mobile ICU bus | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“That was the effort to secure energy supplies; we would deliver generators, and all kinds of thermal units that would help Ukrainians survive the winter.

“Throughout the entire effort we support all other kinds of needs, and this bus is one of them.”

For Czechs who might be feeling a bit of fatigue with the ongoing support the Czech government is providing to Ukraine, of course it costs a lot of money. What would you say to them about why it is so important to keep supporting Ukraine and keep these ties between Czechia and Ukraine strong?

“We all know that Putin would not stop in Ukraine that the war would be just the beginning, and Ukrainians are basically fighting for our common security against the aggressor.

"During this fight they sacrifice their lives and health and we need to keep helping them, both militarily and also with humanitarian aid.”

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