Kiev Jewish volunteers undergo disaster training


(JTA) — Jewish volunteers in Kiev underwent training on how to respond to multiple emergencies.

The training was given to about 15 volunteers this week by United Hatzalah and ZAKA — two emergency response organizations from Israel.

“The participants have been trained to provide first aid in mass casualty emergency situations, and include protocols for CPR, treating suffocation, injuries and diseases,” the two groups wrote in a joint statement Wednesday.

The training was part of the Jewish community’s preparations for dealing with emergency scenarios that may arise as a result of the still-unfinished revolution in Ukraine, and Russian incursions into Ukraine last week.

Moshe Azman, a Ukrainian chief rabbi, requested ZAKA and United Hatzalah give the emergency response seminar, which was prepared in cooperation with the Isralife Foundation.

Ukraine already has two unaffiliated quick-response teams that are made up of Jewish volunteers.

“We were pleased to come to the assistance of the Ukrainian community during their time of need and provide the emergency training their volunteers need to handle local emergencies in an efficient and timely manner,” said United Hatzalah’s president, Eli Beer.

The United States and Europe have accused Russia of “aggression” in the Crimean Peninsula, in southeastern Ukraine. Rabbi Misha Kapustin of the Ner Tamid Reform synagogue in the Crimean capital of Simferopol told JTA that Russian troops occupy the city, but on Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian troops were not in Crimea and suggested the uniformed men controlling key positions in Crimean cities belonged to local pro-Russian militias.

According to Israel’s Ma’ariv daily, several students from two religious seminaries in Kiev have been summoned to appear before reserves conscription offices set up by Ukraine in response to Russia’s actions, which included last week military maneuvers near the border with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian revolution began in November when demonstrators took to the streets to protest policies by the government of former president Viktor Yanukovych, which was seen to prioritize Ukraine’s ties with Russia over its relations with the European Union. Protests intensified, forcing Yanukovych to flee for Russia last week.

A temporary government was installed, and new elections were scheduled for May.

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