Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services is preparing to ship surplus equipment to help support relief efforts in Ukraine.
The department will send out its fifth load of gear this week — it includes medical kits, wound care items, personal protective equipment (PPE), and retired safety gear such as boots, gloves, helmets, and other clothing, according to the city.
“For us it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to try and go to a fire while you are being shot at or when your fire station has been leveled or your family has been evacuated and yet you are still responding to people in need,” said Kelly L’Hirondelle, Lethbridge Deputy Fire Chief
The equipment does not meet North American standards for PPE and otherwise would have been donated to another country, such as Mexico, as the department has done in the past, according to L’Hirondelle.
“Regardless of if you are a firefighter here or you are a firefighter in Ukraine — it’s a big thing that they talk about the brotherhood,” he said. “Anything we could do to help, everybody was on board from day one.”
The department estimates it will have sent 250 full sets of fire gear to Ukraine after this shipment, according to Paul Wasylewich, retired Lethbridge fire chief and paramedic.
“A few of the emergency services department there have been literally desecrated, buildings [were] blown up.”
He said emergency responders have been working without proper PPE. “The message we get from the people on the ground there, they can’t appreciate it enough.”
The items being sent to Ukraine are described as at surplus to requirements for the City of Lethbridge, and will not have any impact on fire services in the municipality.