There are days in Bakhmut that are more difficult than others – although no day is easy in this battered city. 

Once home to 100,000 people, it’s now a military objective for the Russian army, the gateway to key industrial cities in eastern Ukraine.

But the city has become a major obstacle for Russian generals, who have been pounding its neighbourhoods with rockets and shells

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Members of the city’s ambulance crew deal with the human consequences of this, and we followed them to the outskirts of Bakhmut, several kilometres from the front line.

The paramedics found a woman lying on the side of the road with clouds of smoke billowing behind her.

Her chest was bleeding and the tips of her shoes had been torn off.

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“Pick up my leg,” she screamed, before calling out to her partner. “Vova!”

“Just a minute, Rimma, they will help you,” he replied.

‘The earth shook as the explosives hit – I dived for cover’

This neighbourhood, like many others in Bakhmut, has been intensively shelled by the Russians – and as the crew began to treat their patient, another aerial attack began.

We heard a series of rhythmic blasts, with the sound building in intensity. The earth shook as the explosives hit the ground, and plumes of phosphorus-like smoke rose in the air.

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I dived for cover behind a brick wall while my colleague, Ronnie Dewhurst, filmed the ambulance crew.

In his footage, we see the paramedics pausing briefly as the strike closed in, spreading themselves out on the ground. But they did not leave the injured woman – and they soon returned to her side.

Seeking safety from the attacks, we exited the scene, but returned to the city’s modest-looking ambulance station later in the day.

‘It’s critical – her hip was reversed’

We found one of the attendants, called Vlad, who had treated the woman, and he told us that Rimma was in a bad way.

“It’s critical, it’s her head, her leg, a displaced fracture. Her hip was reversed, (it’s) not good.”

“What did you see, what did you hear?” I asked.

“Explosions, although I was concentrating on the woman. I started to bandage her, and the explosions started, and everyone took cover, but fortunately I had time to start bandaging and I finished it in the car,” Vlad replied.

“I gave her painkillers, we did everything we could to tell the truth, despite the shelling.”

“When the rockets hit, you didn’t run away, you stayed with her,” I said.

“If not me, who? It’s very simple, someone needs to do it,” he replied.

This city has been broken, sliced and pummelled in less than a month of ferocious fighting. Residential blocks have been punctured by artillery shells and the streets have been pockmarked by missile craters.

But there are people in Bakhmut trying to save their city, regardless of how the frontline shifts.