Knoxville’s Frazier part of med team in Ukraine

Tom KingKarns/Hardin Valley, Our Town Heroes

Dr. Russ Frazier is now practicing medicine in what is easily the most dangerous place in the world – Ukraine – more than 5,000 miles from his Hardin Valley home, a country under siege by Russian bombs, missiles, tanks and troops.

More than one million refugees have escaped the ongoing Russian onslaught in war-torn Ukraine and many more will. In the middle of this continuing exodus this past weekend, Frazier and a medical team from the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (GSMSG) entered the Ukraine war zone Saturday night. The original assignment was for two weeks, but that could change based on the war.

Frazier is an anesthesiologist at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge and the long-time chief of the Knox County Rescue squad.

He has been working with the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) medical group for three years and previously worked in Sweden, Guyana and Sierra Leone in medical emergency events.

His wife, Kim, dropped him off last Friday morning at McGhee Tyson Airport for a flight to Charlotte and then on to New York’s LaGuardia International, where the team gathered. They left there Friday night and flew to Poland, arriving around 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Russ is the co-commander of the team, which includes doctors, nurses, field medics and others. They do surgery and primary care battlefield medicine and even though Frazier is an anesthesiologist, he will handle surgeries if needed, his wife said.

Kim Frazier

Kim’s name is probably familiar. She is in the middle of a political race, working to win the Knox County Republican primary on May 3 for an at-large seat on the Knox County Commission. They have two sons – Jackson, 17, and Maddox, 16.

Now, she has more stress on her and their boys.

“The boys and I have cried once and it took awhile for the weight of it to hit me. But I know how skilled and capable he is and truthfully, I’m a little on edge. He is innately brave and he is dedicated to serving others, just like at our rescue squad,” she said.

“Our boys are so proud of him and his opportunity to help these people who are showing such honor and courage. Russ is made to do this. He’s always so calm under pressure and he always runs toward chaos while others run away from it.”

Kim said she was unable to sleep Friday night. “That’s when the gravity of it all hit me. I was awake at 2 a.m. and I could not sleep and I couldn’t stop checking my phone and email for updates all night long.”

She says that she’ll be busy working on her campaign this week. The next week is spring break and she is driving a van to take her sons’ band to Seagrove, Florida, for a show. Their musical group is called “Solstice” and when the show is over, she wants them to relax and have fun and “try not to dwell on the obvious.”

The organization Frazier volunteers for is GSMSG, a 501(c)(3) non-profit created in 2015 by Dr. Aaron Epstein to provide high quality care to victims in Iraq during the conflict with ISIS. What started as small teams of physicians and surgeons has expanded to an organization made up of over 1,000 leading U.S. licensed medical professionals and experts, covering every medical and surgical subspecialty. To read more about GSMSG, click on this link:

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