PEI

P.E.I. firefighter collecting equipment for departments in Ukraine

A P.E.I. firefighter is helping collect fire for Ukrainian firefighters. Then, he takes on another challenge as a children's hospital in Ukraine needs help.

'The firefighting side is always taking care of the firefighting side'

Kory MacAusland is collecting equipment to help firefighters in Ukraine. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

Kory MacAusland opens the door to his garage where fire helmets, oxygen tanks, boots and gloves line the room.

There's even a Stokes basket — a stretcher-type device used to transport patients.

It's all gear donated by fire departments across the Island, which MacAusland will be sending to Ukraine to help firefighters there in the next two weeks.

Coming from a family with generations volunteering as firefighters, wanting to help is his nature, the P.E.I. firefighter said.

"You need two things in life — one to feed your pocket, one to feed your soul," he said.

"So when you see someone needs help and you're able to help, it's what feeds us all for the firefighting side."

Firefighters helping firefighters

MacAusland is the founder of Canadian Bomberos, a group with a mission to help and provide gear to firefighters throughout Mexico, Central and South America.

He collected five tonnes of fire gear for Mexico a few years ago. When an explosion rocked Beirut in 2020, he helped collect equipment for firefighters there. Now, he's looking at Ukraine.

When he put out a call that fire equipment was needed to help Ukrainian firefighters, many fire departments across the Maritimes answered right away.

Fire gear like a Stokes basket, gloves and boots line up MacAusland's garage. The gear has been donated by fire departments across P.E.I. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

"As soon as word goes out, we got donations right now setting up as far as Campbellton, N.B., and through Nova Scotia and Fredericton area down to Saint John," he said.

"The firefighting side is always taking care of the firefighting side."

Last Sunday, Crossroads and North River fire departments helped his group raise over $1,000.  The Stokes basket was from the Alberton department, while the fire helmets and oxygen tanks were donated by the Lennox Island fire department.

"The firefighting side I'm not worried about," MacAusland said. "But we've taken on a new challenge."

Every bit of help is needed

Last weekend he got a call from Firefighters Without Borders Canada asking if his group could help collect supplies for a children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Lviv.

He was sent photos of the situation there, where children with cancer or those needing surgery were running out of supplies and the nurses were wearing the same scrubs for days.

MacAusland holds up a fire helmet, which is among many other helmets, oxygen tanks and lightweight overalls donated by the Lennox Island fire department. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

"They sent me some pictures that I wouldn't even share," he said.

"It's heartbreaking."

That's why besides collecting fire gear, his group is now calling on Islanders to donate children's and medical supplies, from diapers and baby clothes to scrubs for the nurses.

"We're not asking somebody to call out and spend hundreds of dollars on it. With gas prices, food prices and all that up, that extra is not there," he said.

"But if you have an extra $5 to pick up a box of surgical masks or an extra $10 that can get a package of wipes or distilled water, that's something that's definitely needed."

MacAusland is folding a baby blanket. Besides fire gear, he's look for donations to help a children's hospital in Lviv, with things like baby clothes, diapers and wipes. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

MacAusland expects he'll have everything loaded up to be delivered by March 25. Islanders who want to donate can contact him on Facebook to arrange donation pick-up.

Islanders can also drop off donations at the Carriage House at 2 Kent St. on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. till 4 p.m., Thursday till noon and Friday till 10 p.m.

Another drop-off location is the Summerside fire department's Station 1 from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.

His group will also be collecting donations in front of Sobeys in Stratford on March 20.

With files from Island Morning

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