LOCAL NEWS

West Valley City firefighters visit Ukraine to provide aid and training

Dec 20, 2022, 6:34 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The war in Ukraine might be far away from our homes in Utah, but for two local firefighters, it’s so much more.

“You feel like you are so far away, but when you get there, you realize what these people are going through,” said Marcie Mehl.

Brandon Howard and Marcie Mehl are firefighter paramedics with the West Valley City fire department. They knew they had skills that could help over there.

Jeff Petersen, who lives in Lehi, gave them that chance when he was putting together a humanitarian mission to Ukraine.

Petersen was talking to his neighbor, Rick Howard, who just happened to be a paramedic trainer and the father of Brandon.

One call turned into several, which turned into the two firefighter paramedics, as well as Rick, joining the mission.

“It’s normal everyday people that are stepping up, and it brings a bright spot to humanity in the middle of so much darkness,” said Petersen.

They traveled by train and other vehicles in Ukraine. At one point, the Utahns received a police escort because they were in an active war zone.

“At night, we would hear air raid sirens. We would hear loud noises. We weren’t sure what they were. They even gave us a little link on an app where we could see kind of what’s going on, so it gave us some kind of reassurance of that we weren’t totally in the dark,” recalled Brandon, a captain of the West Valley City fire department.

They worked with a Ukrainian group known as the White Angels, who help in areas many others won’t go to.

The paramedics taught the Ukrainian group first-responder-type medical techniques and gave them supplies.

“They were helping with community bombings,” Mehl said. “They would go respond to neighbors and people that they know rather than just the military. It made it really personal.”

Sometimes things were hectic, but their work to help train only became as crucial as ever.

“Once we got going, we kind of just fell right into place because it was the same training that we put on for our guys,” Brandon recalled.

The friendships they made, and the emotions they felt from locals fighting for their country, moved them.

“Politics aside, it really is heartbreaking to see the people over there and to know so many of them don’t have electricity, and you wonder how they’re going to get through the winter,” Mehl expressed.

The team stayed for about a week before returning to Utah just a few days ago.

“If I had the opportunity and things worked out, I would want to go again and see my new friends,” Brandon said.

As unique as Christmas always is with family at home, you can’t blame them for thinking of their friends and family far away.

“I keep in touch with them. We text back and forth now. We ask questions. We send pictures,” Brandon said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The Utah Senate on March 1, 2024....

Lindsay Aerts

Final day of 2024 legislative session saw billions in funding and a move to ban pride flags

The final day of Utah’s 2024 legislature saw over 100 bills passed, involving funding for downtown, social media restrictions for minors, and a $29.4 billion budget.

7 hours ago

Cache County Clerk David Benson addresses a crowd regarding election law violations. (Mike Anderson...

Mike Anderson

Cache County Clerk addresses office election law violations

Cache County Clerk David Benson answered questions from the media and local voters about findings of numerous election law violations in his office.

8 hours ago

Pair of handcuffs on a black bacthroom...

Alexander Campbell

Washington County man calls police on self, gets arrested for stolen firearms

A teenager is off the streets after calling in to St. George Police and giving them his approximate location Friday, leading to a guns-drawn arrest.

8 hours ago

Two victims in a Hit-and-run in Sugarhouse speak to KSL News on Friday. (Emma Benson, KSL News)...

Emma Benson

Sugarhouse hit and run victims speak out

Two Sugarhouse women are speaking out after they were involved in a hit-and-run.

10 hours ago

Toyota passenger car that was involved in a fatal crash on Friday. (Utah Highway Patrol)...

Alexander Campbell

South Jordan crash results in one fatality, closes I-15 on ramp

Interstate 15 is closed at 11400 South while Utah Highway Patrol investigates a fatal crash on Friday.

11 hours ago

SLCPD officers pulling the the man off the parking garage ledge. (The Salt Lake City Police Departm...

Alex Cabrero

Body cam video shows police officers save man’s life during mental health crisis

Many people who live or work in downtown Salt Lake City often have very normal days. 

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

West Valley City firefighters visit Ukraine to provide aid and training