Dr. Baker stands in front of a 50-foot high stack of sandbags and a sign to the side that reads "World Help Us"

March 1, 2023 —Bay Area surgeon Dr. Michael Baker will offer a boots-on-the-ground perspective of the conditions in Ukraine following his two visits to the war-torn country to teach Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) to Ukrainian physicians and other medical personnel as well as “Stop the Bleed” measures to ordinary citizens. 

“The ATLS is for physicians and ‘Stop the Bleed’ is for regular people—librarians, bus drivers, schoolteachers who wonder what to do if somebody bombs their school or apartment building,” Baker said. “Everybody was extremely thankful we were there.” 

Baker will share details of his experience as well as his take on the morale of the Ukrainian people and the condition of the country during an hour-long presentation on Monday, March 6 at 1 p.m. via Zoom. The free event is presented by CSU Channel Islands Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and is open to all members of the public.  

Dr. Baker stands with three citizens as he teaches them a Stop the Bleed technique on a mannequin

Dr. Baker last year retired as a general surgeon and trauma surgeon in private practice and had also retired from the U.S. Navy as a Rear Admiral after a total of 30 years in uniform. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles on subjects ranging from wounds and trauma to medical intelligence and building the hospital ship of the future. But now, he felt the best way to serve his country and other democracies was to share his surgical knowledge with the citizens of Ukraine.   

“I feel an attack on democracy anywhere is an attack on democracy everywhere,” Baker said. “It’s important for us to support the Ukrainians. For me, the best way was to teach people how to care for casualties.” 

So, when the International Medical Corps and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative reached out to him to join a group of instructors headed to Ukraine, he didn’t hesitate. Baker and his group would be teaching ATLS and “Stop the Bleed,” which are two standardized trauma courses sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and is taught in 81 countries so far. 

After 12-hour flight from Los Angeles, Baker met the other instructors in Warsaw, Poland to begin the long journey to Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev.  

“We traveled by van to the border crossing, then we walked for an hour to get through immigration to meet another van on the Ukraine side,” Baker said. “That’s because the traffic was backed up for miles with trucks bringing in supplies. Then we took an 8-hour trip into Kiev on side roads—which was kind of painful—but it’s necessary because when you bunch up a lot of cars and trucks, they become a target.” 

On the way to Kiev, they drove by armed guards, bomb shelters and roadblocks with air raid sirens splitting the air intermittently. When they arrived in Kiev, they set up equipment, demonstration mannequins, projectors and other teaching tools to a group of Ukrainian personnel eager to learn how to care for their citizens. 

“They’re very highly educated people and are very much looking to the West,” Baker said. “The young people want to speak English and be involved in the war effort. They are extremely patriotic, and they will never give up. They know what it’s like to live under the thumb of the Russians.” 

Dr. Baker stands in front of a statue in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev

In order to protect their iconic buildings and other structures, the people had constructed walls of concrete blocks and sandbags. Schools had reopened, but students had to carry “safety bags” filled with food, water, books and toys for time they had to spend in school air raid shelters. 

Among the Ukrainians who touched Baker the most deeply were the middle school children, who were trying to thrive during a war, and even at their age, speaking of rebuilding Ukraine. 

Baker hopes his talk encourages Americans to contribute to Ukraine’s fight in any way they can, be it contributions, volunteering or expertise, because their fight, he believes, is our fight. 

“If we don’t stop Russia, they will be invading Poland, Moldova or some other neighbor next,” Baker said. “We all need to be in this fight to whatever extent we can participate. We might need to contribute money for some, for others it will be to volunteer or to help refugees resettle in your town.” 

Interested attendees may register online for Dr. Baker’s presentation. 

OLLI at CSUCI allows adults aged 50 and up to take university-level courses without concern about grades, career preparation or degree requirements.

The University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs, events and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the respective area below as soon as possible, but no later than seven (7) business days prior to the event/activity: 

CSUCI Studentsaccommodations@csuci.edu
CSUCI Employeeschristine.girardot@csuci.edu
Members of the Publictitleix@csuci.edu

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