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Maine EMT travels to Ukraine to help refugees

"I have the ability, and I have the support at home that allows me to do this, so there's no way I can't do this."

PORTLAND, Maine — In small towns, it's volunteers who help coach our kids, keep our libraries running, and keep our communities safe through fire and rescue services. 

And it's volunteers who have been helping so many refugees find safety as Russia continues its attacks on Ukraine. Many of those volunteers come from the U.S. Among them is a man from a small town in Maine. 

"We don't know what we're walking into," Danny Evarts said about his mission to Ukraine through Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is veteran-led and dispatches health care teams to areas hit by natural disasters, ravaged by health crises such as COVID-19, or torn apart by war. It accepts volunteers with health care backgrounds, military backgrounds, or others who just want to help. Evarts has all three skill sets.

"We watch TV, we watch the news, we see these images, and we feel helpless. And I have the skills. I have the ability, and I have the support at home that allows me to do this, so there's no way I can't do this," Evarts said. "I have to do this."

Evarts was an Arabic linguist for the Army. He now works as an advanced EMT in the towns of Woolwich and Damariscotta. 

"These missions, they don't have resources. They don't have anything right now," Evarts said. "Team Rubicon comes in with all of the gear we need, all of the medications. All of these things we carried on the plane over here with us, all of our tech, everything we need to basically make a mobile EMT field hospital of sorts."

Credit: Danny Evarts
Danny Evarts with Team Rubicon medical gear

Joy Moh is the head of communications for Team Rubicon. 

"Team Rubicon has received a request from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and will be assisting a local hospital in Lviv, Ukraine," Moh said. "Ukrainians who have fled their homes include the most vulnerable populations: women, children and unaccompanied minors, the elderly, people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+, many of whom have complex medical needs. 

"Needs will include access to essential health care including maternal and reproductive health, pediatrics, COVID-19 support, and other vital services," Moh added. "Physicians with expertise in pediatrics, maternal/reproductive health, and mental health are among Team Rubicon’s EMT on the ground."

RELATED: How to support Ukrainian relief efforts here in Maine

While answering what he felt was a calling, Evarts had concerns about leaving behind his team, specifically in Woolwich, where volunteers make up the rescue crew. 

"When he messaged me about this my first thought was, because of our staffing, I thought, 'Oh boy, here we go, hopefully we can cover these.' And we have," Woolwich EMS Director Brian Carlton said. "Secondly was be careful, be safe, and get back."

Like any health care service in Maine right now, Woolwich Fire/Rescue has seen its own share of staffing shortages, and team members that all have their own full-time jobs. 

"We're down to about nine or 10 people right now from 15 to 20 when we first started out," Carlton said. "I'm just thankful for the rest of the staff for stepping up to allow Danny to step out and go overseas and help out over there."

Evarts is thankful too. He and his Team Rubicon group will be gone for three weeks, until another team will take their place. 

"It's all privately funded that pays to do this," Evarts said. "We have partners who buy plane tickets, so anything you can do if there's some organization at home. Also watch out for your loved ones at home. Because the news is hard right now. … It's really hard. Just be there for each other."

Support Team Rubicon here or join as a volunteer here

RELATED: Maine firefighter helps Nepali recovery efforts

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