Ukrainian firefighters visit Amboy
AMBOY – We’ve seen footage on CNN or read stories online.
Russia began invading Ukraine in February 2022 and is still sending armed soldiers and missiles into the desired territory.
Although not thought of in a word association game with war, the Ukrainian firefighters and fire departments are just as much involved as soldiers since they’re putting out fires and saving lives endangered by Russian bombs and missiles.
On Monday, May 1, Amboy was visited by three Ukrainian firefighters – Roman Kachanov, Sergiy Bilous, and Oleksii Chernomorchenko – at Dinges Fire and the Amboy Fire Department as they told stories of the conditions of Ukraine and gave thanks for American donations.
Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant Sr., his staff of firefighters and EMTs, other departments, and civilians gathered to meet the Ukrainians.
“It was pretty awesome to hear about what they have done on a daily basis since the war started,” Chief Bryant Sr. said. “The demands on fuel. The demands on water to fight fires. The demand on their equipment to do repeated structural collapse rescue and retrieving victims underneath rubble 8-10 times a day through constant bombing.
“They have lost first responders also. They don’t have digital radios, only USSR technology. When they are dispatched, Russians are listening and are able to pinpoint where the Ukrainian first responders were going and send a secondary barrage of missiles and bombs to those areas.”
The three visitors are from Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, which reported a population of 1,421,125 in 2022.
Kachanov is the chief of the 11th fire station in Kharkiv. Bilous is the commander of the guard No. 8 in Kharkiv’s fire and rescue division. Chernomorchenko is the deputy in charge of telecom systems and technical information protection.
The three left the United States on Monday, May 8 after spending two weeks in the states. The first week had them in Indianapolis frequently as they attended a fire department and structure conference with a crowd of approximately 39,000.
Bryant Sr. said Kachanov, Bilous, and Chernomorchenko were recognized in the opening ceremony and received a standing ovation from approximately 10,000 firefighters.
They also toured Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. Before flying to Poland and receiving grand transport to Ukraine.
Amboy received the visit due to its donation effort.
“We were a hub to gather supplies. We put out the word that we were collecting materials. If departments in Illinois had stuff, it came to Amboy, we sent it to Schiller Park, and Schiller Park shipped it to Poland. The Amboy hub sent $5 million worth of supplies to Ukraine.
“The firefighters from Ukraine who were here are pretty young. Roman spoke really good English, the other two did not. They had visas through the World War II 501©3.”
The equipment sent was invaluable to Ukraine as it is used many times a day until damaged.
In the USA, the equipment has a shelf life of 10 years. Once it is expired, it can’t be used any more. It sits in a warehouse or a basement without use.
Until, it is donated to a country under siege.
“We as a world should be held accountable. We are letting this happen,” Chief Bryant Sr. said. “I don’t think we should go to war, but I think this is a scab situation. It’s like pulling a scab off a wound and it never heals right. You put a bandage and some Neosporin, treat it right.
“I think we’re giving them enough weapons and support for the war to continue, where I think we should give them enough weapons to finish it.”
The Amboy Chief will never forget the visit.
He’ll remember the stories, the situations the Ukrainian firefighters are going through, and the gift they gave him.
“They each gave me a patch off of the uniforms they were wearing. That’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received in my life,” Chief Bryant Sr. said. “They were wearing their dress uniforms and each one of them gave me a different patch. That was pretty awesome.
“The coolest thing is, Amboy Fire Department and Dinges Fire, in a little town, are doing big world stuff. We never intended to get any publicity out of it and we didn’t intend to meet them. But, I’m sure glad we did.”