Three Edmonton firefighters are going to Ukraine to teach first responders a modified version of the NATO standard Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course.
The firefighters are all volunteers with Firefighter Aid Ukraine (FFAU). They’ll leave from the Edmonton airport on Tuesday.
They’ll teach more than 70 firefighters and police officers, who will then train others across Ukraine.
The medical course focuses on life-saving interventions for injuries associated with military attacks on civilian populations.
“The number of emergency incidents is through the roof,” said Kevin Royle, FFAU’s volunteer board director. “The type and severity of injuries and destruction they see is exponentially greater than what we have to deal with here as first responders in North America.
“Critical injury, acute injury, even in the mental health aspect. You’re dealing with destroyed infrastructure and all the destruction they have that goes along with that.”
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He said the specialized training will focus on haemorrhage control, blast injuries, airway management, treatment of thoracic injuries including needle decompression, hypothermia prevention in patients suffering from traumatic injuries and basic wound care.
“It is aimed at addressing the most immediate emergency care needs that first responders are dealing with,” Royle said.
“So far we’ve conducted some traumatic combat casualty care — or TCC — and we’re also providing extrication training, the use of hydraulic tools that we’ve sent over, stabilization training for structural collapse, we’re also conducting hazmat training, high-angle or rope training.”
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Royle said some Ukrainian first responders will immediately use the training they receive.
“It’s pretty wild,” he said.
“The students that we’re instructing, they know how critical it is… They’re absorbing anything and everything they can.
“Individuals who have not performed in an emergency responder role previously have now taken on that role in Ukraine. As such, they do not have this kind of training and it is imperative for them to have it, given the situations they are dealing with in their roles,” Royle said.
In addition to the training, the firefighter group is bringing over supplies.
“What we’re providing is assistance to first responders and hospitals and doctors with PPE, specialty equipment for treating patients and savings lives.”
Edmonton firefighters prepare for aid trip to Ukraine
FFAU was created in 2014 and is run by volunteers.
The group has brought more than 200 tonnes of emergency response equipment to Ukraine since Russia invaded.
In May 2017, a 12-metre shipping container filled with medical supplies, tools and emergency response equipment was sent to Ukraine. In September, a group of seven Edmonton firefighters and one dispatcher went overseas.
Alberta Canine has teamed up with FFUA to send over some support of its own.
Torch, a three-and-a-half year-old Belgium Malinois trained in explosives detection, is being donated to the State Emergency Services of Ukraine.
“He’ll be working as a demining canine or an explosives detection canine,” said co-owner Matt Lapointe.
“For every year of conflict, there’s an estimated 10 years of demining that’ll need to be done over there.
“Now that we’re just over a year-and-a-half into this, there’s going to be 10 to 15 years of demining. Obviously, mines are a major concern over there for the general public. There’s fields, border crossings — everywhere is just kind of being mined by the Russians and that causes a huge public safety concern.”
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Lapointe said Ukraine has its own canine training program but its numbers were based on pre-conflict needs. Now, those needs have grown and additional support is needed. Enter: Torch.
“Torch’s brother actually works for Edmonton Fire Rescue as their accelerant detection canine,” Lapointe said. “We had raised and trained him, canine Marshall, and he started working with Edmonton Fire Rescue at two years old.”
Marshall’s handler put Alberta Canine in touch with FFAU and Royal.
“We kind of let him know what we were thinking would be a good job for Torch and expressed our interest in donating him, and through Firefighter Aid Ukraine contacts in Ukraine, we were able to get set up with State Emergency Services, who were more than happy to accept the donation of a fully trained, ready-to-work explosives detection canine,” Lapointe said.
He said Alberta Canine just wanted to help in whatever way it could.
“Like most of the people in the world, we’re watching kind of the unprecedented and unfathomable invasion of Ukraine and their resilience of that invasion,” Lapointe said.
“We have the luxury of sitting here in Canada where things are mostly safe, generally, and we just wanted to find a way to be able to help the people over there.”
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