Tipperary humanitarian volunteer continues to help in Ukraine

Air raid alarms are sounded a minimum of nine times a day in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

That’s according to Clonmel native Andrew Laste, who has spent the last year in Ukraine offering humanitarian aid.

He says he has witnessed a children’s school hit by two missiles on a supply run and that there’s always a risk you will be in an area hit by a missile attack.

Speaking on Tipp Today, the humanitarian described what it is like to experience in person.

“It’s very difficult because this isn’t something that we, as Irish people, would have ever experienced at home. As a former firefighter, I spent 10 years in the fire service in Ireland, and I’m also an emergency medical technician; I’ve worked in very austere environments and in very crazy and chaotic situations, but nothing compares to a war-time situation where you’re literally under attack by missile strikes or by drone strike. Potentially, in the front-line areas, you could be under artillery fire or you could be under a small weapons attack.”

He also spoke from experience saying it would be safer to have appropriate equipment to help evacuate disabled people from “hot zones” in Ukraine.

He says that there have been times when you have to act quickly and use extreme means to transport those in wheelchairs.

“These are the kind of people who are stuck in the ‘hot zones’, as we would call it. Sometimes we would have to do evacuations and we don’t have the appropriate equipment to bring them out. So, we’re really flying by the seat of our pants quite a lot of the time. Sometimes we just lift up the wheelchair and put it in, and we’re holding it, which, obviously, isn’t safe when driving according to the rules of the road. But, when you’re in front-line locations, unfortunately, there are no rules of the road.”