4 men, 3 ambulances, 1 mission: Canadian volunteers to bring medical aid to Ukraine

A man from Metro Vancouver teams up with two other Canadians and a man from the United Kingdom to deliver three ambulances loaded with vital medical equipment to war-torn Ukraine.

The three Canadians are all veterans, while their British colleague is a former doctor and paramedic in Ontario.

“I have two young boys aged seven and five, and they are my priority, but from my point of view… what if they were my children in Ukraine right now? What if they were there? Chris Ketler told Global News.

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Russian-Ukrainian conflict: a destroyed children’s hospital in Mariupol

Russian-Ukrainian conflict: a destroyed children’s hospital in Mariupol

“What would I do to go out there and help them, and why do we treat other people’s children differently?”

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The team have already secured one ambulance, donated fully loaded by the Bristol Ambulance Service, and are working to finalize the purchase of two more by next week.

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From there, they hope to load them up with as much medical equipment as possible before driving them to Poland and then crossing the Ukrainian border.

Ambulances and equipment will then be given to Ukrainian civilian officials.

The biggest challenge will be getting these things into the country, that’s the hardest part right now, with the big buildup of refugees at the borders,” Ketler said.

“What we’re really trying to give them is something that’s operational, that a person can get behind the wheel and take a call. That’s the idea.”

Donated equipment Ketler and his fellow volunteers plan to deliver directly to Ukrainians in need.


Although the men have military backgrounds, Ketler – an Afghanistan veteran and now a Canada Border Services Agency officer – said they had no intention of getting involved in combat .

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“Our goal here is to help civilians, not to fight the Russians,” he said.

“Four people showing up with guns are not going to win the war. But what we can do is help get people out of there and save lives.

The team is supported in part by Surrey mortgage consultancy Invis, Shimona & Associates, which matched around $5,000 in donations for the expedition.

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“We knew Chris and his group were working to get medical supplies, from the simple things like syringes and IV bags to some of the more expensive items like ambulances that they are looking to get from the UK. We thought it was a very worthy cause,” said mortgage broker Shawn Pinto.

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The humanitarian crisis is worsening in Ukraine

The humanitarian crisis is worsening in Ukraine

“We found it was a good way to put the funds directly into Ukraine, we knew his overhead was very, very low, and he was spending a lot of his own money to cover that.”

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The group is also host an online fundraiser to help cover their costs.

As the days progress towards departure, Ketler said he had many conversations with friends and family members who supported his mission but were also concerned about the risk.

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The danger is something Ketler says he has his eyes clear about heading into the conflict zone, but not something that will stop him from going there.

“(My boys) need their dad as much as I need them. Absolutely, it’s terrifying, it’s my biggest fear that these boys are growing up without a dad,” he said.

“If you’re not ready to die for your principles, what are you standing for? And there are some things in this world that are worth the risk. If we can get in there and help even five civilians out, what is one person? »

With files from Rumina Daya

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