As the atrocities of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine persist, and war continues to grip the nation, one of the main priorities for the international community is ensuring that the Ukrainian people get access to whatever humanitarian and medical aid that they need. There are huge challenges in getting resources to a country at war, but one organization that’s making headway in supporting Ukraine is Blau-Gelbes Kreuz e.V (BGK).
BGK actually began its work in Ukraine when Russia invaded, and subsequently annexed, the Crimean Peninsula back in 2014. It’s true that war has been happening on Ukrainian soil since then. However, as we all know now, Russia escalated its invasion earlier this year - at great human cost - and the people of Ukraine continue to defend their regions, towns and cities.
BGK’s main focus now is getting medical aid and assistance to people and hospitals in Ukraine as they continue to fight in the war. Since February, the organization has supported the delivery of over 150 palettes of medical supplies, helping over 10,000 seriously injured people in Ukraine.
The operation is complex and has had to scale rapidly. This week we learnt how Kostya Bazanov, Managing Director & ServiceNow Lead Architect at Teiva Systems Germany GmbH, used his contacts at ServiceNow to get a platform solution in place to support the entire supply chain of activity. Bazanov has 40 of his own team members in Ukraine, as well as family members, so this is a project that is very close to home.
Bazanov has been volunteering with BGK for a number of years, but is now working very closely with the organization, supporting its efforts to get medical supplies and aid into Ukraine. He was speaking at ServiceNow’s Knowledge event in The Hague this week, where he explained how the Now platform is supporting operations.
This project started about two months ago. The most impacted people are obviously in Ukraine, but this affects all of us. It’s not only about the war in Ukraine, it impacts European people and the entire world.
BGK is a non profit-organization from Cologne, established in 2014. We are focused on delivering humanitarian and medical help to Ukraine. When the war started in Crimea, the organization helped in different humanitarian projects, but as soon as the full scale war started in February this year, we very much focused on medical aid.
This support is largely focused on getting medical kits from Germany to Poland, to get across the border into Ukraine. Bazanov said;
When the war started, everything was very chaotic. The main target was to bring help, different sorts of help, from Germany to Ukraine. Our team consists of crisis managers, medical experts, air experts, logistics experts. We figured out quite quickly that we have to provide very focused medical support. We learned that we can provide efficient help by assembling medical kits.
The medical kit is a standardized package of medical supplies. One medical kit fits on to a palette, which contains about 50 medical accessories that are able to help with most combat injuries.
Around 99% of injured people can be saved or helped by this kit. And then we scaled up from one kit to many kits. And in order to scale up we needed a reliable solution to bring this help from Germany, over the hub in Poland, to different regions in Ukraine.
We were able to supply more than 10 hospitals with our medical supplies and aid. With one kit you can help more than 100 injured people. We estimate we have helped more than 10,000 people already.
Getting technology support
Bazanov explained that when the team started putting together medical kits in February and March, the work was very unstructured and ‘quite chaotic’. Everyone was clearly trying their best, but communication was distributed through different platforms and volunteers were using a variety of apps on their mobile phones to get information between teams. He said:
They were using Telegram, WhatsApp, writing emails, or just calling people and contacts in Ukraine, Germany and Poland. But they didn’t have time to sit down at a computer and fill out some Excel sheets. So everything was very unstructured.
Given Bazanov’s work as a ServiceNow consultant, he saw the opportunity to use the platform to digitize the entire process. He said:
My idea was to provide the technology to support this process, to make it more digital. I know that due to this manual process, and some other issues, the help can be routed to the wrong targets, or it would take too long.
So was my idea to introduce ServiceNow as a solution across the entire supply chain process. I’ve been working with ServiceNow for 12 years as a solutions consultant. I lead a team of 40 ServiceNow consultants in Ukraine, so my team is Ukraine, so they are also affected. I knew ServiceNow could help, bring value and do the whole process more efficiently. This was around the first or second of March.
Bazanov got in contact with ServiceNow to explain what he wanted to do and he said he got help from the company “within hours”. BGK had to go through some security screenings, as is the case for organizations providing support to countries at war, but the first solution was live within a week. Bazanov added:
From the first call to ServiceNow, to go live, was one week. Of course it wouldn’t be possible without the passion and dedication of all participants. Including BGK, the people who were actually preparing and sending the medical kits, they were in the role of product owners. ServiceNow was involved as the vendor, but also provided professional services with dedicated people who implemented the solution, as well as some development and maintenance activities.
So all together in this very unstructured situation, but very flexible and dynamic, we were able to bring this solution within a week. And then we started to create additional features, additional solutions, to bring even more value.
Expanding the use
Since going live, BGK has begun to expand the capabilities of its ServiceNow tooling to include humanitarian use cases beyond the digitization of distributing medical kits. Bazanov said:
One of the biggest value adds that we have since provided is for a Ukraine air rescue initiative. A team of pilots, who fly private jets, or own private jets, they fly medical aid to the border of Ukraine in Poland. And then also fly back injured people to hospitals in Germany.
Our solution supports this team in planning their flights and pilots, because you have to know which pilots are available where.
We are scaling up too, we are bringing more solutions to the ServiceNow platform. We would like to implement an efficient way to prepare documents for the supply chain, for the logistics. There are dozens of documents that our organization needs to provide to different authorities in Germany, in Poland and Ukraine, and we could speed up this process by simply getting all the data from the one platform.
BGK is continuing its incredible work, getting medical assistance and support to Ukraine, but relies on donations and financial contributions for its work. You can find out more about contributing to the efforts here.