The Canadian International Rescue Organization team was in Ukraine from June 3-25 helping support the structural stability of buildings in the City of Kharkiv. (Contributed photo)

The Canadian International Rescue Organization team was in Ukraine from June 3-25 helping support the structural stability of buildings in the City of Kharkiv. (Contributed photo)

Canadian International Rescue Organization team leader reflects on second trip to Ukraine

Central Albertans travelled to Kharkiv from June 3-25

A team with Central Alberta members returned to Ukraine earlier this summer to help save lives.

From June 3-25, the Canadian International Rescue Organization travelled to Kharkiv, Ukraine, which is located on the country’s eastern side by the Russian border.

“That place was one of the first hit during the war, so there was lots of structural damage. There was still daily bombing and daily rockets,” said Red Deer’s Marcel Schur, team leader.

The team’s main job was to help with the structural stability of buildings.

“We did at least one call a day,” Schur explained.

“There was so much damage there, especially on the eastern edge of the town where the strikes first happened.”

During the team’s first venture into Ukraine, from early March to early April, it conducted search and rescue operations in the country’s capital, Kyiv.

READ MORE: Central Albertans return from search and rescue efforts in Ukraine

The war is raging as strongly as ever, Schur noted.

“Right now the war is just as intense as it was at the start. It’s just not covering the same areas. Everything is back closer to the Russian border and Belarus,” he said.

“The areas (Russia) is trying to take over, they’re pummelling them to bits. If they can’t have them, they’re going to destroy them. It’s very important people don’t forget that this war is still very, very active.”

The experience in Kharkiv was stressful at times for the team, Schur said.

“We would go into a (bomb) shelter seven times a day. Sometimes even more. At night, you’re up every two hours because of an evacuation,” he said.

“People got tired quicker and got frustrated more easily. It was stressful in that way. But the work wasn’t really stressful because you weren’t really dealing with humans. You weren’t trying to save anybody’s life, you were trying to prevent something from happening.”

The team taught combat first aid to a few hundred firefighters when they weren’t conducting structural work. Team members also taught people how to utilize equipment.

The search and rescue team doesn’t have immediate plans to return to Ukraine, but could head out for a third deployment in the fall.

CIRO is an impartial, neutral team of volunteers responding to global disasters to provide professional search and rescue services. In addition to being volunteers, the members of the team have taken time off work at their regular jobs to come to the aid of others.

To donate to CIRO, which is a nonprofit organization, visit www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/ciro-canadian-international-rescue-organization.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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