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Shawnee firefighter returns to Ukraine to help with search and rescue efforts

KMBC Kansas City logo KMBC Kansas City 7/4/2022
Shawnee, KS firefighter returns to Ukraine © Derrick Rolfo Shawnee, KS firefighter returns to Ukraine

A Johnson County, Kansas, firefighter is back in Ukraine for the second time to help with search and rescue efforts, as Russia continues its relentless attacks. KMBC 9 talked to him about why he decided to go back, and the help still desperately needed.

Moments after a Russian missile hits, firefighters are often first on the scene. “We're in the area of buildings that are being bombed or have been bombed,” said Derrick Rolfo, a Shawnee, Kansas firefighter.

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He’s back in Ukraine for the second time to help Ukrainian crews with search and rescue efforts. “Recently, probably a week, two weeks ago, the attacks have stepped up and they've actually taken quite a few cities that we were in the first time,” he said.

After his first trip in April, he's back with Project Joint Guardian, a national program sending firefighters from the U.S. and other countries to Ukraine. Along with responding to scenes, they've also donated life-saving gear.

“We donated body armor and some of the firefighters that we donated body armor to actually took hits in the body armor, which they told us saved their lives,” Rolfo said.


Video: U.S. ‘will make every effort’ to rescue captured Americans in Ukraine, former Amb. says (NBC News)

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The group also got a fire truck donated, which Rolfo just drove from Germany.

He wants people back home to know Ukrainians are still in dire need of help. “It's still a very active war scene going on and there's still work to be done,” he said.

He says going back and putting his life on the line was an easy decision because of the bond he's formed with fellow firefighters overseas.

“We've made personal relationships with these guys and it’s just really nice to be able to protect them and help them,” said Rolfo. “This industry of firefighting has no borders.”

Rolfo will be in Ukraine for three weeks. He's using his vacation time to be there.

If you'd like to donate to Project Joint Guardian, click here.

READ THE FULL STORY:Shawnee firefighter returns to Ukraine to help with search and rescue efforts

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