Like many people, I couldn’t turn away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the first days of the war I was glued to the news and waiting until 1am local time to see if Ukraine made it through the night. I looked for ways to help as I knew a major displacement of civilians was imminent. I started building lists of organizations that were directly involved in supporting refugees and the Ukrainian military.
In April I traveled to Poland and Ukraine with Operation White Stork to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate refugees. I collected my notes from that trip and follow-on support work.
It’s useful to think of medical supplies in a few different categories, each with their own needs:
Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) for the military
Military / field hospitals
People serving on the front lines just need a few critical items that can be used to help save their lives and give them enough time to get to the next level of care.
Gear to get on Amazon
Note, there are many sources of tourniquets and most of them aren’t fit for military use. I wouldn’t recommend buying any unless you know what you are doing. I also wouldn’t recommend 3D printed tourniquets for military use, e.g. 3D printing instructions for Gaza Tourniquet. These may be fine for emergency use by civilians but there is a good chance these will break or take too long to use.
General Relief Organizations
Refugee Coordination Sites
https://www.ukrainetakeshelter.com/ - insecure
Ukraine State Border Service: https://dpsu.gov.ua/en/. Doesn’t appear to be actively maintained but the locations of border crossings are accurate.
Refugee Reception Locations
There is large volunteer-run reception center for refugees a few hours from the Poland/Ukraine border.
International Volunteer Hub: https://discord.gg/MMTkDq2j8Z
Ukraine Supply: https://discord.gg/yfmZnPXf9d
I delivered some supplies to Poland & Ukraine in April with Operation White Stork and here are a few notes from that trip:
First casualty in war is truth. While there are many people trying to help Ukraine, there are unfortunately many people trying to take advantage of the situation. Until you know someone's agenda, assume that you can't fully trust them.
Know the situation. Before you think of going anywhere, learn about local conditions, ideally from people you can trust. When was the last attack, what was attacked, what's the deal with police, emergency medical services, and hospitals?
Location location location. Many organizations are based out of Krakow Poland but it's a long drive to the Ukraine border.
Have a comms plan and a no comms plan. The cell network in Ukraine seems pretty stable, especially in the west, but consider getting a backup service like that offered by Garmin Inreach. You should also have a plan for the scenario in which all cell/remote comms goes down, or you simply lose your phone, e.g. meet at a physical location if no contact in 12 hours.
Remember that refugees are people not cargo.
Speak the language or have someone with you that does.