In the premises of the International scientific centre “Observatory” on the mountain Pip Ivan of the Chornohora range in the Carpathian Mountains there is located a unique high altitude rescue station, the highest one in Ukraine in terms of its position.
There works Yavirnytske search and rescue department of the 4th specialized search and rescue group of the emergency rescue unit of the special forces of the department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. The functioning of a rescue post on the third highest mountain in the country inevitably results in the quick reaction of the rescuers to different emergency situations, it enables rescue units to reach the needed spot and help the tourists in need in almost no time. The main tasks of the currently working department are search and rescue services, urgent help, which includes first medical aid, dealing with communication problems, encounters with observatory and mountain visitors, performing explanatory and informative functions. Ukraine had no experience in creation and functioning of similar units in highlands, so Polish partners came to a rescue providing the necessary information. Nowadays the search and rescue unit works on the development of the work principles and basic concepts, life support organization and further technical equipment supplies.
The building on the top of the Pip Ivan mountain has always been the place of interest for tourists, and, nowadays, as long as it hosts the International scientific centre “Observatory”, the premises attracts mountain travellers even more. This interest results in the increasing flow of tourists. Consequently, it is self-evident that there exists the need for rescuers. The Chornohora range is a crowded place, it is the place where a lot of tourists routes crisscross, leading both Ukrainian and foreign tourists. The tourist flow through the Chornohora range is a constant phenomenon, but summer always makes a dramatical increase in their quantity, on average there are over 6 thousand people per month, with 2 hundred people climbing to the top daily. The tourist flow is lesser in winter, but it still exists despite extremely cold temperatures, winds, cloudy sky, mists that obstruct vision.
According to Volodymyr Chernetsky, the Head of the department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, the very existence of the search and rescue station is the result of the strong position of the Department in their attitude towards urgent mountain rescue and their understanding of the new approaches to rescue missions. It has become possible within the framework the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reformation and close long-term cooperation with Polish colleagues.
There exists a long-established friendship between Polish and Precarpathian rescuers, which has begun since 2008, when Polish colleagues provided their assistance fighting with the consequences of a major Precarpathian flood. This cooperation has found its continuation in the following years under the framework of the project “Polish aid” aimed at common trainings and studies.
A lot of work has been done in recent years. Since August, 2015, there have started regular watches of rescuers on the Pip Ivan Mountain in a testing regime. There have been solved a lot of problems concerning everyday staff: water and electricity were provided, there was found and worked on the source of drinking water, the problem of connection was solved (Wi-Fi spots and telephone connection are now available). The rescuers worked out the best watch schedule and created all the necessary conditions for successful rescue work in mountains. On September, 16, 2017 there was an official opening of the first watch and reopening of the astronomical-meteorological observatory on the Pip Ivan Mountain which were accompanied by festive prayers and ceremonial oaths of the mountain rescuers.
In the near future they plan to create an International training centre for mountain rescuers, which is going to build a common basis not only for both Ukrainian and Polish rescuers, but for representatives from other countries of the Carpathian region.
Polish colleagues helped Ukraine in a lot of ways. They have also provided training for Ukrainian mountain rescuers together with the Mountain Volunteer Search and Rescue (GOPR) unit that worked in Bieszczady. After the training the Polish side plans to provide our rescuers with some equipment and snowmobiles in order to give the Pip Ivan Mountain unit the modern facilities.
Vitold Tomaka, the head of the Bieszczady rescue unit believes that the level of interest of his Ukrainian colleagues, their approach to studies, and especially their first aid training, are precious evidence of the important and mutually beneficial cooperation of Polish and Ukrainian rescue teams on the Pip Ivan Mountain.