A chance discovery at a North Vancouver firefighter training facility has resulted in what may be one of the most consequential civilian aid donations to Ukraine from B.C. so far.
District of North Vancouver firefighter Jared Reynolds was rummaging through a storage unit at the facility looking for something for a fire truck about two months ago when he stumbled upon something else entirely.
“All of a sudden there were these wooden cots that all said ‘field hospital beds,'” he told Global News.
What Reynolds had discovered was an old NATO-standard field hospital.
The equipment, including 200 beds and 200 field stretchers along with bedding and blankets, was originally deployed to Vancouver Island in 1970, before being transferred to North Shore Emergency Management where it sat for decades in case of a natural disaster.
The gear, now out of date, had long since been replaced by modern equipment.
“I’m looking at what’s happening right now in Ukraine, and it’s tough to see. I’m a veteran of the military myself, served in Afghanistan in 2009, I’ve seen the effects of war, pretty close and personal, and thought this was a great opportunity to have it do some good,” Reynolds said.
“So I started asking the questions if we could send this to Ukraine, and they were kind enough to offer it to us,” Reynolds said.
That was the easy part.
Reynolds began looking for ways to connect the equipment for those who needed it in Ukraine, and posted about the gear in an online forum for Canadian veterans.
Two different people reached out to him, recommending Brent Mudry, a recently-retired RCMP officer who started the Defend Ukraine foundation this spring.
Mudry spearheaded the logistics of transferring the equipment — which involved jamming a 40-foot container with 69 pallets of equipment, sending it by rail to Montreal, shipping it to Germany and trucking it into Ukraine where it has been distributed to six cities in the country’s south and east.
“We opened it up and it looks like it’s brand new, it’s fantastic material and a lot of it is actually in use as we speak,” Mudry said.
“It’s a bit of a pinch-yourself moment when you get these photos coming back and you see them unpacking it and getting it in use.”
The group got help from several sources along the way, including financial donations from DNV firefighters union and charitable foundation, and from CP Rail, which agreed to carry the container for free.
And they aren’t finished either — there was so much equipment, even after jamming the first container full, they estimate there’s enough gear to fill half of another one.
“There’s always more material and less inches than you’d expect,” Mudry said.
“It’s just a drop in the bucket for what’s needed.”
— with files from Paul Johnson