It was a terrible normality, an everyday occurrence in the war, said the Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Khymynets when the vehicles were handed over at the fire brigade security center in Tulln on Tuesday. And he appeals not to forget his country: “All Ukrainians appreciate how Austrian society, all Austrian citizens, have shown solidarity from the beginning of the war and continue to show solidarity. The willingness to donate is also extremely important to us.”
The destruction in Ukraine also affects a lot of infrastructure. During a visit to Kyiv in June, Alfred Riedl, President of the Austrian Association of Municipalities, met the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, among others. Help from the Austrian communities was promised – more on that in Delegation meets Vitali Klitschko in Kyiv (noe.ORF.at; 20.6.2022).
Three fire engines, an ambulance and a garbage truck
A first part has now been redeemed. Five used emergency vehicles are being delivered to Ukraine via the Ministry of the Interior: three fire engines, a Red Cross ambulance and a refuse disposal vehicle donated by the Saubermacher company.
At the handover, Riedl emphasized the unbroken optimism of the mayors in Ukraine, with whom he had spoken: “No talk of depression, but a strong sign: We will make it, we are building the future. The request was only where it is possible to help urgently.”
This is now happening with the emergency vehicles, but rescue organizations and volunteer fire brigades have been doing this since the beginning of the war in February. State Fire Brigade Commander Dietmar Fahrafellner: “We called on our fire brigades to donate and were ultimately able to deliver 96 pallets of fire brigade equipment to the Ukraine.”
Josef Schmoll, President of the Lower Austria Red Cross, added that aid deliveries to the Ukraine had been organized from the start: “Just yesterday, another ultrasound device was delivered from the Tulln State Clinic to a clinic in the Ukraine, where the severely wounded are undergoing emergency operations.”
Support in setting up a volunteer system
The five vehicles will be brought to the Ukraine next week, and other vehicles have already been registered for this purpose. If they are replaced by new vehicles in Austria, they also make their way to the hard-hit country.
Another form of cooperation is still in its infancy, but will be started as soon as the situation has calmed down a bit. The emergency organizations and the association of municipalities want to invite representatives of the Ukrainian civil protection and the municipalities to Lower Austria in order to familiarize them with the voluntary system and to set up structures for helping people to help themselves, which could bring great benefits in post-war reconstruction. Longer-term community and town partnerships should serve as a basis for this.