Canadian firefighters send aid to first responders in Ukraine – Edmonton

Firefighter Aid Ukraine has been in existence for eight years and sends health and safety equipment overseas once it is no longer needed in Canada.

« We end up with a lot of equipment that needs to be removed from service for a lot of reasons, whether it’s end of life or expired, » explained project manager Kevin Royle.

During this time he went to Ukraine seven times. But the two missions he’s been on since the invasion of Russia have been totally different.

“The initiative was launched because they are underfunded and ill-equipped. It hasn’t changed, it’s exasperated,” he said.

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On Friday, Royle returned to Edmonton after spending two weeks overseas checking out a new logistical plan for donations.

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Instead of chartering its own plane, Firefighter Aid Ukraine now puts pallets of supplies on passenger planes whenever there is extra cargo space.

The new plan allows donations to be moved faster.

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NATO chief stresses strategic value of Arctic to Russia during visit to northern Canada

NATO chief stresses strategic value of Arctic to Russia during visit to northern Canada

This most recent visit was to make sure the boxes were delivered to the right places, into the hands of the first responders who needed them.

So far in the war, 89 tons of donations have been sent to Ukraine.

“We have always focused on firefighter PPE, rescue equipment. We also provide medical and hospital diagnostic equipment, first aid consumables,” Royle said.

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During this trip, Royle and other volunteers visited fire stations in areas under Russian occupation for a month.

« Just seeing the damage and what they had to endure, what they tried to accomplish under the shelling and the gunfire and the severity of what they were trying to mitigate – that was pretty bad, » Royle explained.

« They need everything, » said volunteer Vitaliy Milentyev. “Holders, gloves, boots, helmets, all kinds of extrication tools.

« They had everything, but the Russians took or destroyed everything. »

The group also provided basic training on how to use some of the donated equipment.

Firefighting donations come from departments in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and even as far away as California.

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“Fortunately, we will never have to deal with extracting victims from a structure that has fallen due to a missile strike or an explosion like that. We will never have to endure being interrogated or beaten by an occupying force.

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In Ukraine, tools like life jaws and radios are invaluable.

“The next day we were getting pictures and videos of this equipment being used in the fires, right away,” Milentyev explained.

This instant gratification encourages these men to keep going, donating both their time and energy to the cause.

“The war is not over. They need our help. They need it to survive and they need it to win this war. We have to keep fighting with them,” Milentyev said.

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Businesses and individuals also supported the effort.

“We keep hearing about war fatigue here. People just change channels or go to the lake to enjoy their summer days,” Royle said.

“People don’t have that luxury in Ukraine. They don’t know when the next missile strike is going to happen, where it’s going to hit, what it’s going to destroy or who it’s going to kill. They don’t have the ability to turn off.

« For me, that’s reason enough to keep doing what we’re doing. »

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