A group of B.C. paramedics have embarked on an ambitious effort to donate at least one ambulance filled with medical supplies to volunteer medics on the front lines of Ukraine. With enough help between now and Sunday, they hope to be able to double their donation.
It all started just two weeks ago when Victoria-based advanced care paramedics Melissa Sims and Andrew Mills decided it was now or never for them to make good on their long-held dream to create a non-profit dedicated to helping paramedics.
“This situation sort of found us, and it seemed like the perfect time,” said Sims. “To see and hear about volunteers and civilians who could be us, being actively targeted in this war, is devastating. That was a huge drive for us doing this.”
Paramedics 4 Paramedics was formed, a website hastily created, and calls across eastern Europe started going out in search of a used ambulance in good condition and an organization to partner with in Ukraine to ensure it would be put to good use.
The group, which quickly added Vancouver-based Magda Wegner-Powala and Jeff Burko, found their Ukrainian partner in Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital and located a pair of suitable ambulances in southern Poland.
Sims said thanks to the support of the paramedic community and beyond, they quickly gathered $23,000 in donations, enough to purchase one ambulance and fill it with the necessary medical supplies.
They have a new fundraising goal of $42,000, to purchase a second ambulance and double the supplies.
“None of this would be possible without the support of our colleges and friends, and then their family and friends.”
With two ambulances on hold for the group in Poland, Sims said things will move very quickly in the near future. She and Mills are set to fly to Poland on Sunday (April 17) to purchase at least one of those ambulances, get one or both checked out and prepared by a local mechanic they have already connected with, and drive to the Ukrainian border – possibly crossing into Ukraine briefly– before handing over the equipment to Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital for immediate use.
As reports have been emerging that Russians have been deliberately targeting civilians and medical teams in Ukraine, or at the very least they are being caught up in the crossfire, Sims said the hope is this will not just be a one-time donation.
“Our intent with this trip is to establish a framework so we can continue to donate and facilitate supplies,” she said.
With more money needed ahead of their flight on Sunday, Sims is encouraging anyone who can help to visit their site at paramedics4paramedics.ca to donate online or learn more about their cause.