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UK firefighters share the benefits of volunteering with FIRE AID in Ukraine

Wed 04, Sep, 2019

On average there are 4,000 fatalities on Ukraine’s roads each year, all of which are preventable. In response to this, two of FIRE AID’s founding members, the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) and Kent Fire and Rescue Service, funded by FedEx Express Europe, teamed up to deliver a joint project aimed at improving immediate post-crash response in Ukraine. The collaboration strives to reduce the number of deaths caused by road traffic incidents, by providing training and equipment to fire services in two major cities of the country, Kyiv and Korosten- enabling them to respond to incidents quicker and more effectively.

Danny Ayles, firefighter, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, spoke of his experience: “I was humbled with regards to how lucky we are in the UK to have such modern equipment and regular training compared to countries like Ukraine. I had goose bumps knowing we had been able to deliver something so valuable by participating in this project.”

Our team of firefighters arrived in Korosten to deliver training to local services on how to use the donated equipment, with special focus on the modern road traffic collision sets that were donated. These will be shared among several fire stations in the Zhytomyr region, which has several major roads passing through it. Local firefighters were particularly impressed with the new extraction techniques demonstrated.

Andrey Grishchenko, a local fire fighter from Korosten

Andrey Grishchenko, a local fire fighter from Korosten, said: “The techniques shown are new to us but will undoubtedly be very useful. Just last week we attended an incident where a bus driver was trapped in his cab. Using this technique and having the benefit of this new equipment, we would likely have been able to save the driver’s life.”

The region’s fire chief, Colonel Butrimovych Mykhailo, has already suggested that this training be replicated across the Zhytomyr region.

Sam Sellick, firefighter, Kent Fire and Rescue Service said of the training: “Sharing skills, knowledge and experiences with the firefighters in Korosten not only improves post-crash response in Ukraine but also aids my development as a firefighter. Throughout the demonstration we had to overcome several challenges, such as language barriers but we were able to adapt to deliver the training successfully”

Following this, the team delivered further training in the capital, Kyiv to a further firefighting crew. The Kyiv fire service were particularly pleased to receive donated chemical decontamination equipment, given the region’s exposure to the effects of the Chernobyl disaster.

The project provided Kent firefighters with fantastic personal development opportunities as explained by FIRE AID Project Manager, and Kent Firefighter Michael Pitney: “The personal reward and development gained by providing professional training to international fire services is second to none. The experiences gained overseas will always be different to anything attained in training or everyday roles in the Fire Service. These experiences which are truly ‘not the norm’, develop how a firefighter would normally work with others. The experience brings confidence and leadership when required to work ‘outside the box’ in situations that although not necessarily critical, are also clearly not training scenarios. The problems being faced are real; resolving them quickly and smoothly is necessary to progress. In these situations firefighters quickly learn to allow rolling decisions and to continuously monitor these to see if they still apply”

Korosten firefighters receive donated PPE

Following this project FIRE AID will be delivering further road traffic collision training to the University of Life Safety in Lviv in October 2019; providing UK firefighters with another chance to enhance and develop their training skills whilst gaining a better understanding of how other fire services work internationally.

We would like to thank FedEx Express Europe for making this project possible and to project partners EASST and Kent Fire and Rescue Service. We would like to extend our thanks to Oksana Romanuka and Alex Heraimovyhch, our in-country project managers, and lastly, to Michael Pitney for arranging equipment, training and volunteers to support the project.