These firefighters from Canada are helping emergency responders in Ukraine save lives

Kevin Royle, Nelson Bate and Anatoly Morgotch of Firefighter Aid Ukraine demonstrate some of the combat first aid training they taught participants in Ukraine.  (Julia Wong/CBC - photo credit)

Kevin Royle, Nelson Bate and Anatoly Morgotch of Firefighter Aid Ukraine demonstrate some of the combat first aid training they taught participants in Ukraine. (Julia Wong/CBC – photo credit)

A group of Edmonton firefighters are back home after giving first aid training to emergency responders in Ukraine.

The team from Firefighter Aid Ukraine, an Edmonton-based organization that has been distributing PPE and other equipment in Ukraine for years, visited Kolomyia in western Ukraine from January 25 to February 2 to train around 80 doctors, paramedics and other first responders massive bleeding, severe internal injuries and blocked airways – common war injuries.

“Combat medicine really focuses on what we call the potentially preventable causes of death on the battlefield. It’s very focused and aggressive treatment of these specific injuries, and it’s quite different from how I would conduct a paramedical assessment in Canada,” said Fireman Nelson Bate.

Samuel Martin/CBC

Samuel Martin/CBC

Bate, who served two deployments in Afghanistan with the Canadian military before becoming a firefighter in 2014, was a medical instructor for the Edmonton Fire Department. He seized the opportunity to go to Ukraine.

“Sometimes it’s quite a challenge for someone who’s been in the military to sit back and watch these conflicts take place abroad — they feel helpless,” he said. “When I was asked to participate, I felt very honored and privileged to be part of it.”

CLOCK | Edmonton firefighters share their skills in Ukraine:

While Bate has previously conducted first aid training courses in Canada, this trip was different.

“It felt very purposeful. It’s very different than teaching a CPR class or a first aid class in Canada, where someone may or may not use those skills,” he said.

“In Ukraine, we knew that the people we were teaching would probably use these skills in the near future.”

‘Sobering Experience’

Anatoly Morgotch served as a translator on the voyage. He moved to Theodore, Sask from Ukraine in 1995 at the age of 14. In 2008 he moved to Edmonton and has been with the city’s fire department ever since.

Morgotch had not been to Ukraine since 2002 and said it was surreal to be back in his homeland, which is now an active war zone.

CLOCK | Edmonton-area firefighters return after two-week training mission:

“It was a very good but also humbling experience [back] to the place where I was born,” he said.

“It’s incredible. The hardest thing for me was definitely watching kids interact every day, living their lives and knowing that [in] In the rest of the world, children have warm beds, a warm school to go to – and children in Ukraine, they [don’] have those opportunities.”

Morgotch said his aim is to ensure that nothing is lost in translation for participants.

“It was very humbling to see how much they appreciated that [training] and how much they are learning about the methods used in North America,” he said.

And while helping teach the students, Morgotch said he himself learned something from the whole experience.

“I learned kindness. I learned humanity. I learned how during the most difficult times, they were the last thing on their mind [was] themselves – they thought of each other,” he said.

The training took place around the anniversary of the invasion

Kevin Royle, founder of Firefighter Aid Ukraine, said the organization has been delivering life-saving supplies and equipment to first responders and hospitals in Ukraine and other countries for about nine years.

The group has been helping local people since the annexation of Crimea since 2014 and had planned for some time to teach combat first aid training, but the pandemic and then the Russian invasion pushed that back.

The trip came as Ukraine marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion; it continues to be bombarded with rocket and shelling attacks.

CLOCK | Mapping a war year in Ukraine:

“The indirect fire in the shelling from the invading Russian forces has just created this tremendous demand for people with the skills and ability to use those skills in medical procedures, stabilizing patients and increasing the chances of a positive outcome and preventing death . ‘ Roile said.

According to Royle, the trip, including equipment and flights, cost between $25,000 and $30,000 — costs raised by donations from the organization.

Firefighter Aid Ukraine plans to hold more first aid training sessions, although dates have not yet been set.

“I hope it shows the rest of the world that we are still thinking about Ukraine and that Ukraine still needs our help,” Royle said.

Submitted by Firefighter Aid Ukraine

Submitted by Firefighter Aid Ukraine

CBC News in Ukraine: Join us this week The National moderated by CBC’s chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault in Kiev. Watch at 9pm ET on CBC News Network, 10pm on CBC TV and stream on CBC Gem and CBC News Explore.


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