A team of central Albertans have left the comforts of home to assist with rescue efforts in Kyiv, Ukraine. The team from the Canadian International Rescue Organization (CIRO) departed on March 3, 2022 responding to a request for aid from the Ukrainian government.

Chad Reed, Public Information Officer for CIRO says so far the crew is doing well and has seen some successes.

“The team has completed three full searches of rubble piles and buildings with some success. The team has been able to recover one casualty at this point. Our team is also equipped with a combat medic. He was able to assist one of the Ukrainian Soldiers who was injured,” explained Reed.

He is also thankful the team has been able to find safe shelter with a Ukrainian fire department for the time being.

“Once they found out basically that we were volunteers from Canada, they were very welcoming to our team. They were able to allow our guys to use their fire station to be able to have shelter and a place to do some cooking and those types of things. We're really grateful for that,” said Reed.

Six members of the team are from central Alberta. There is one person from the United States, and another from the United Kingdom. The team members have been specially trained for search and rescue missions.

“Our members are trained with what we call Urban Search and Rescue or USAR. Part of the training is technical search and rescue and what that really means is utilizing specialized cameras that are able to reach down into confined spaces, utilizing lights on 360 degree-view cameras and with microphones as well,” he explained.

Through the equipment, the team is able to communicate with trapped individuals and locate their approximate location.

CIRO member using some of the equipment. Photo courtesy of CIRO.

“We also use listening devices as well which are very precise and it helps us pinpoint if we have somebody who is able to respond back. If we call out for them, or if we ask them to tap or scratch on some rubble, we would be able to hopefully pick that up with our devices and be able to pinpoint where they're at,” explained Reed.

If the team is able to locate someone deeply buried under rubble, they inform a team of people who have the equipment that will be able to safely extricate the person. If they are near enough to the surface the team may work to remove rubble by hand and perform the rescue.

Some members of the team have made their own investments in specialized equipment and other large cost items. Some of the gear they have elected to pay for and bring, ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 each in price. Many have also taken a ‘leave of absence’ from their workplaces back at home. However, thanks to some generous donations some costs have been covered.

Overall, Reed says the team is doing well so far.

“The spirits are good right now with our team members. We just continue to hope for successful missions and that our people come home safe to us,” he added.

You can support the search and rescue team by donation through Canada Helps.