June 15th, 2024

Fire departments stepping up for Ukraine


By Lethbridge Herald on March 16, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Paul Wasylewich takes a glance at all the donated equipment for Ukraine emergency services that he stuffed into his SUV for a trip to Calgary Wednesday.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Paul Wasylewich has never felt so proud to be Ukrainian. The retired Lethbridge Fire/EMS employee is spearheading a campaign to get much-needed emergency response equipment to Ukraine and fire departments from Alberta have stepped up to the plate in a big way.

Wasylewich is the son of a Ukrainian immigrant named Peter and Wasylewich felt he had to do something to help out his family’s homeland after the Russian invasion.

With huge support from fire departments in Red Deer, Magrath, Coaldale, Picture Butte and Pincher Creek, he’s managed to haul a couple of loads to Calgary to the Ukrainian Council for distribution. The Wasylewich’s have a friend in a Ukrainian camp near the Polish border who is helping to co-ordinate the relief effort by messaging the needs of Emergency Services personnel there.

Wasylewich’s son Grant, a paramedic, arranged to get his colleagues in Red Deer to contribute.

On Wednesday, Wasylewich’s Saturn Vue was packed front to back with equipment for donation to Ukraine. His trip was just the latest in several that are being made.

“My family has been amazing,” said the retired Lethbridge firefighter before hitting the highway.

Wasylewich says credit for the relief effort goes to the people who have contributed and managed to secure the donations, expressing his gratitude for “the generosity, support and kindness of this great country.”

“Emergency services in Ukraine are overwhelmed and need people to help with their efforts,” he said in his driveway.

He got encouragement form his wife and kids to see what they could get for equipment. A friend is in one of the camps in Ukraine and messaged that they needed things such as trauma dressings, medical supplies, medications and protective gear for staff.

“We phoned around to a few fire departments here” and Red Deer made a huge donation.

“That’s where it started, my son was able to get a whole bunch of stuff from Red Deer, Magrath gave a huge donation so we took a full load of trauma gear, trauma supplies, medical supplies, some protective gear to Calgary and the Ukrainian Council in Calgary” shipped it to Toronto. And from Toronto it was sent to Ukraine.

“It kind of took off honestly. The response back has been a bit almost overwhelming,” Wasylewich said.

“It’s just all in good will,” he said of the support from the Ukrainian community and southern Alberta.

“The donations have been more than generous.”

Between Picture Butte and Coaldale, a huge load was secured which was the one he hauled Wednesday.

“It’s appreciated. Things they’re having a tough time getting there like the trauma dressings. We’ve sent probably 12 to 15 full sets of fire gear and emergency response clothing,” he added.

“It’s quite amazing to be involved in this.”

“We gather it from the generous donations from the region then we deliver it to Calgary to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church” which was Wasylewich’s father’s church.

Once supplies get to the camp, Wasylewich’s friend disburses it.

On Tuesday, Lethbridge Fire/EMS chief Greg Adair will make a proposal to city council that his department donate expired or surplus items to Ukraine relief efforts. If approval is granted, items for donation will be catalogued and supplied to the Ukraine relief efforts.

Among the items that the department could donate are life-cycled medical kits, expired disposable wound care items and protective equipment.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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