Goleta-based nonprofit assists with transporting volunteer firefighters
Goleta-based Direct Relief and Project Joint Guardian, a San Diego-based international network of volunteer firefighters, have partnered together to provide technical gear and search and rescue training to firefighters and search and rescue teams in Ukraine.
The supplies have been donated by fire stations across the U.S. with much of it coming from California.
Direct Relief’s role in the effort was to provide a $50,000 grant to help fly the firefighters to Ukraine, said Tony Morain, the nonprofit’s vice president of communications.
The effort has relied on donations.
“Being a nonprofit, everything has been donated. Personnel are donating time and efforts,” Isaac Siegel, organizer of Project Joint Guardian, told the News-Press. “Direct Relief has donated supplies as well as firefighting and search and rescue gear.”
Mr. Morain said Direct Relief has donated personal protective equipment for first responders and more than 200 tons of medicine and medical supplies to Ukraine.
The coalition of 20 volunteer firefighters will be deployed to Ukraine over the next week. As they arrive in Ukraine, they will be met by supplies and firefighting gear, which they will use as they partner with Ukrainian firefighters to do search and rescue.
“We also have 12 personnel assisting Ukrainian firefighters with a light urban search and rescue task force,” said Mr. Siegel.
When the war in Ukraine broke out, Project Joint Guardian transitioned to assisting Ukrainian firefighters.
One of the major issues with donating technical equipment is getting it to the front line, Mr. Siegel said. He explained the equipment often gets stuck in warehouses due to lack of training on how to use it and what to do with it.
Mr. Siegel explained that one of the things that their teams would be doing was making sure that supplies actually make it to the front line where they are most needed.
And Mr. Morain said State Emergency Services of Ukraine invited Project Joint Guardian to help with the first responder and search and rescue efforts.
“Usually aid is rendered by a government-to-government task force,” said Mr. Siegel. “This is a first-of-its kind mission, being completely nonprofit. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been done before.”