CUF-sponsored IFAKs Huge Lifesavers, CAF Members Say

Warrant Officer Tim Stackhouse holds up an IFAK. Marco Levytsky

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau.

IFAKs, or Individual First Aid Kits are among the biggest life-saving contributions that the Canada Ukraine Foundation provides to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF), according to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel involved in Operation Unifier.

“Once Ukrainian soldiers are finished training with us, they’re gifted with a personal bag which includes the equipment that we teach them to use in our training,” explained Warrant Officer Tim Stackhouse, Lead Instructor at the LOE5 (Line Of Effort) medical administration centre at the Yavoriv Training Centre, located 50 kilometres west of Lviv.

The Yavoriv Training Centre is where 200 CAF members are training Ukrainian military personnel fighting pro-Russia terrorists in the Donbas, under Operation Unifier.

Operation Unifier is the CAF mission to support Ukrainian armed forces in Ukraine. The operation’s focus is to assist them with military training. This will help them improve and build their military capacity. The CAF coordinates its training with the one by the U.S. and other countries that help in the same way. Military training is one part of Canada’s overall support to Ukraine.

The training mission falls under a Multinational Joint Commission, which includes Canada, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. Canada became a member in January 2015. It co-chairs the Sub-Committee on Military Policing with Ukraine.

As of September 1, 2017, the CAF Joint Task Force-Ukraine (JTF-U) has trained more than 5580 Ukrainian soldiers. There have been about 140 course serials that covered all types of training.

While holding a typical IFAK, Warrant Officer Stackhouse explained what it contains to New Pathway – Ukrainian News during the newspaper’s recent tour of the base.

“With the training pack that we have essentially this item would be the tourniquet in a massive hemorrhage and amputation scenario,” he said while pointing to the IFAK

“The soldiers are trained to apply this to the extremity that is wounded and it will, upon successful placement, stop any bleeding that may be going on, keeping the blood internally and saving a life. This is a chest shield. So, if someone is struck in the chest, and is unable to breathe because of the injury and trauma to the chest, we can place this on and it will help secure the oxygen into the lung and allow them hopefully to breathe to save a life. This is a direct pressure bandage, so again, a massive hemorrhage or a significant wound. We can place this item directly on the wound,” added Warrant Officer Stackhouse.

When asked whether there is any statistical data on how many lives this equipment has saved, he replied that there is no direct number “but we get information from the soldiers coming back from the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) who are testifying that they are seeing a significant number of casualties that are coming back and surviving in the ATO because of this equipment and the knowledge how to use it.”

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) was established to coordinate, develop, organize and deliver assistance projects generated by Canadians and directed to Ukraine. It is a registered charity in Canada and provides tax receipts for donors.

CUF has developed an extensive medical aid program for the UAF, and anyone wishing to donate or find out more information, is invited to visit their website at cufoundation.ca

Their address is 145 Evans Avenue, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M8Z 5X8; Phone: 416-966-9700.

Warrant Officer Stackhouse said the mandate of the medical program is “to mentor the training of Ukrainian soldiers prior to and post deployment to the ATO and so we have been able to successfully train instructors of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and now we watch them do the training.

“Our successes have involved monitoring the training of over 1000 Ukrainian Armed Forces members, that’s basic medical training, as well as about 100 roughly enhanced level of training and then another 55 instructors were trained during our time as well.

“We’re watching the skills mainly in life saving techniques, in trauma caused by combat, so we’re teaching them the technique of placement of tourniquets in an amputation or massive bleed situation, as well as other bandages that can be used with direct pressure onto injury sites with massive bleeding. On top of that recovery positions, teaching them ways of keeping airways open in a situation were a member may be unconscious as well,” he added.

“Canadian medical training and the mentorship that we provide is saving Ukrainian lives right now. That’s one hell of a legacy,” noted then Captain, now Major Michael Wiesenfeld, public affairs officer for the base, who guided the tour.

But what the community really needs to do, aside from the IFAKs, is pay for prosthetic limbs for veterans who have had dramatic amputations, he added.

“Young folks who want to remain active and run need the highest-end prosthetics. Normally the veteran has to find the supplier and find the money to pay that individual so what we do is take money from Boomers’ Legacy Fund, which is a Canadian charity, and we pick a worthy veteran and connect that veteran with a prosthetic manufacturer in Poland who provides high quality devices. The community could pay for more of those for the veterans who suffer these amputations. They would be doing a lifetime of good,” Major Wiesenfeld said.