My name is David Krispil, I am an EMT and the commander of the United Hatzalah mission providing aid to the refugees of Ukraine. We are now ready for the start of the second day and are preparing to leave for the border crossings.
It all began Thursday morning when we began preparations for the possibility of sending an aid delegation to the Ukrainian border. I was honored to be asked to lead the delegation of United Hatzalah, Israel’s largest fully volunteer EMS service, and to formulate initial needs according to the situation in Moldova.
On Saturday night, we set off with an initial group of 12 delegation members, who, without hesitation and just a few hours of notice, left everything behind, their families, their plans, their lives, and joined the mission to assist refugees from Ukraine fleeing the conflict. They too left everything behind to make their way to the border with Moldova in order to escape the fighting. Many of them said goodbye to loved ones as they did so.
Our delegation is made up of volunteers from all over Israel; paramedics, EMTs, operations and logistics personnel, and a representative of medical technologies, as well as members of the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit that specializes in providing emotional stabilization and psychological first aid during tragedies and disasters.
Early Sunday morning we landed in Bucharest, Romania. The space on the minibus waiting for us was cramped because of the large amount of equipment we brought with us, but we decided to make every effort not to leave anything because it was all needed by the refugees at the borders. It took a few minutes and a lot of effort, but we packed the huge amount of aid and equipment into the minibus and set out for a long 10-hour drive from Bucharest, Romania to Chisinau (Kishinev), Moldova.
The crew on the plane, at the border crossings, and everyone we met along the way, were excited to see us, volunteers from an emergency service organization with Israeli flags on our way to assist the refugees from Ukraine who are gathering along the borders and generously assisted us in every way they could.
We arrived at the Jewish community center in Chisinau later on Sunday afternoon. Upon arrival, we were met by the Chief Rabbi of Moldova, Rabbi Pinchas Salzman, and many Jewish refugees who fled from Ukraine and had already made their way to the city. The refugees were eagerly awaiting our arrival and greeted us excitedly. I shed a tear when I saw dozens of children, who ran away from their own homes, without being able to take even a single toy with them. We happily distributed hugs and candies from our EMTs and dolls sent to them by children from Israel.
All of the children were excited to try on our volunteers’ vests and helmets and walk around with us like they were part of our delegation. I was thrilled that we were able to help these children feel like children once again and have an opportunity to play and smile. Making them feel comfortable and happy during this extremely difficult time is terribly important for their psychological well-being.
Later on Sunday, we set up a logistics compound, a command room with the help of a Jewish technician who was also a refugee who fled Ukraine. We also established a medical compound, a refugee aid clinic, where a team of our paramedics and EMTs would be staying around the clock to treat patients. This team was joined by Dr. Zev Neuwirth, one of the three volunteers that joined us from Miami. The medical compound includes advanced technological equipment from Sheba Hospital’s Beyond program which will enable the remote treatment of patients via telemedicine and direct consultation with specialist doctors from Israel as needed.
We conducted an assessment with our emergency personnel to understand the situation at the borders and in Moldova and the assistance that would be required of us. We were divided into professional work teams to connect with local authorities and prepare for our next missions in preparation for the departure of aid teams to the border crossings between Ukraine and Moldova which would be taking place the next day.
Between all this activity, we all had a few minutes of pure happiness and serenity when two weddings for Jewish refugees from Ukraine were held in the nearby synagogue complex. Our delegation was invited to join in the festivities and we were so excited for the new couples and felt privileged to take part in the wedding ceremonies.
We then held consultations with the management of United Hatzalah regarding the magnitude of the situation on the ground and the additional assistance we estimate we will need. At this point, we had gone more than 24 hours without sleep.
Past midnight, we finally arrived at an old hotel complex to settle in for the night. The hotel has been closed for several years but was reopened specifically for the purpose of receiving refugees from Ukraine and relief delegations such as ours that were coming to assist them.
We are proud to represent United Hatzalah and the State of Israel and to assist any refugees that require assistance here.
To support the work of United Hatzalah’s relief effort and humanitarian mission to the Ukraine border, click here: