School of Sport and Health Sciences

Rebecca Porter

University alumna brings vital medical care to war-torn Ukraine

A University of Brighton nursing alumna has been helping to provide vital medical care for those caught up in the war in Ukraine, after joining a volunteer team earlier this year travelling across the country offering treatment and medications.

Rebecca Porter, who graduated in 2017 with a BSc in Nursing (Adult), joined a small team of volunteers travelling across the country to provide primary healthcare in villages affected by the war with Russia.

“The organisation I worked with is called Global Care Force,” Rebecca said. “They work across the world, offering free healthcare and medicines to people that need them. We started in Kyiv, and then travelled down south to Mykolaiv. We then went out to villages from this central southern location. We also travelled North, up near the border with Belarus, taking our own medications, so we could give people 60 days’ worth of vital medicines.”

Working in an active warzone, the volunteers faced many frightening and challenging moments, Rebecca remembers. “When we were in the south, we were around 20 miles away from the front lines – we could hear the artillery. The first day we were in Kyiv, we were outside, and the air raid siren went off. We got to see the patriot system in action, with plumes in the sky as the rockets were blown up en route.

“We also visited a village that came out to welcome the body of a young soldier sadly killed on the front line. He was 21 years old and his family were devastated. The village lined the road with flags and flowers, and formed a procession behind the vehicle that carried his body to the church.”

Helping the vulnerable

This is not the first time Rebecca has volunteered abroad in crisis situations. In August 2021, she worked for the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, providing medical cover for the Kabul evacuation. “I flew into Kabul 10 times, bringing back a little over 3,000 people,” she said.

“It was chaos at the airfield, with lists of names on paper, and people who had fled and arrived at the airport with no documents. There were a couple of collapses in flight, as people were running on adrenaline, and then when they felt safe, they crashed. Thankfully no one died, everyone was treated, and was OK. All nursing is important, and the ability to go and help people during crises like war, reinforces how lucky we are to have the NHS and freedom/peace to live as we want in the UK.”

Her time at Brighton was instrumental in giving her the confidence to use her skills in this way, Rebecca believes. “I loved my time at the University. I got a good mix of acute and outpatient training opportunities which set me up for the first phase of my nursing career,” she said. “The training really focused on evidence-based, person-centred practice. This emphasis on supporting the individual made me realise that my skills are highly mobile, pushing me to go abroad and work.

Dr Theo Fotis, Reader in Digital Nursing and Rebecca’s tutor, added: “I’m incredibly proud of what Rebecca has achieved since her graduation and I was really pleased to read her fond memories of her time studying here at Brighton. Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions, with multiple options and opportunities for career progression.”

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Kerry Burnett • 22/09/2023

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