In a storage unit in Edmonton, firefighters combed through hundreds of pairs of firefighter turnout gear destined for Ukraine. The donations are just a small part of a big effort to bring life-saving equipment to first responders in the war-torn country as part of Firefighter Aid for Ukraine.
The effort comes four years after Kevin Royle visited the country on a Rotary Group Study Exchange focusing on emergency services.
“All of our tours of fire stations, hospitals and clinics, we kept observing the same thing,” the Edmonton firefighter said. “Empty storage shelves and first responders trying to do a job with no basic equipment.”
Royle wanted to help those he’d met on that trip. After dealing with personal tragedies, he eventually got together with another firefighter to go on a fact-finding mission to Ukraine to find out what supplies were most needed.
When they got home, the volunteers started developing a plan and approaching local fire departments, businesses and other municipalities to inquire about retired equipment and supplies.
They goal is to collect more than 400 sets of firefighter turnout gear. They also are hoping to fill a 12-metre long shipping container with medical supplies, tools and emergency response equipment.
They’ve had local businesses donate medical supplies and clean the gear they’ve received for free and fire departments from across the province have offered to chip in and help.
“It’ll go a long way in Ukraine,” Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council, said. She explained funding for first responders has been reallocated to the military.
The fight to bring equipment to first responders grew even more personal in the Spring. Royle said two of the firefighters he was working with in that country were killed when they responded to a landfill fire.
The shipping container is expected to leave at the beginning of 2017 and it will take three weeks for it to arrive in Ukraine. A group of volunteers with Firefighter Aid for Ukraine, as well as the Rotary Club of Canada will be there to help hand out the supplies in four regions: Lviv, Transcarpathia, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi.
For more information you can visit the Firefighter Aid for Ukraine website.
Watch below: Some Alberta firefighters are doing what they can to offer help to Ukrainian firefighters who could really use it. Gord Steinke spoke with some firefighters about their donation efforts.