SAN DIEGO — An East County firefighter is launching his own all-volunteer relief mission into Ukraine, planning to help Ukrainian first responders in the war-torn country.
San Miguel Fire and Rescue firefighter and Army veteran Eric Hille is on a mission to bring his firefighting and war-zone experience to Ukraine, raising funds, collecting equipment and gathering volunteers of first responders to bring help to the frontline.
“We’re there to provide aid and rescue and emergency services,” Hille told FOX 5 Thursday. “To help our brother firefighters over there who are overworked, in some hostile conditions and don’t have the resources or equipment they need.”
Hille spent Thursday morning collecting gear from the Sycuan Fire Department. He is forming a team of firefighter volunteers to join his relief effort under the group Task Force Joint Guardian.
“As firefighters we can do EMS,” Hille said. “We can do firefighting. We can do search-and-rescue. We can do it all.”
Ukraine holds a special place in Hille’s heart. He served along side the Ukrainian military as a NATO Peacekeeper.
“Especially when you see hospitals, maternity wards and children’s hospitals being hit,” Hille said. “They don’t have the resources to handle it. They don’t have the personnel. They don’t have the equipment and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
He is also raising funds through FundTheFirst.com. Once they raise enough funds, the team will head to Ukraine for a two-week relief effort to get critical services to the hot zone.
“They need our help,” says Hille. “The firefighters over there need our help and we’re going to get them the help.”
The team expects to leave by April. They hope to raise $250,000 to launch multiple rotations of relief missions.