Medina man travels to Polish border to help refugees
PRZEMYSL, Poland (FOX 9) - As an EMT and volunteer firefighter with the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, Sergey Karachenets typically answers calls for help around the West Metro.
Now he's responding to a different type of emergency halfway across the world at the Polish border.
The 23-year-old was born in Ukraine, but spent the majority of his life in Medina, graduating from Wayzata High School. At home in Minnesota, he knew he needed to do something when he saw the refugee crisis unfold.
"With this war, I felt helpless and useless at home, so I brought myself over here and there's a lot of work to be done," Karachenets told FOX 9.
Karachenets is stationed at a shopping mall that's been converted into a makeshift refugee camp for about 1,000 people in Przemysl, Poland.
Alongside other volunteers from across the world with Global Disaster Relief Team, he sorts donations of critical supplies – like medicine – and delivers them to hospitals and orphanages across the border in Ukraine.
A Medina EMT is now responding to a different type of emergency halfway across the world at the Polish border.
He also serves as a translator, speaking Russian, English, Ukranian and German.
Karachenets has seen the devastating impact of war firsthand. Recently, a woman came to him, complaining of pain in the back of her legs.
"We did an assessment of her and she had shrapnel all over her body," said Karachenets.
Many of the refugees he's met were reluctant to leave their homes in the first place.
"I ask people, 'Where do you want to go?' and they say, 'I'd really like to go back home.'"
Karachenets plans on staying at the Polish border for at least the next month, helping bring a little bit of comfort to those who have lost so much.
"Nothing I was doing at home mattered when people have to live like this," said Karachenets.