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Simcoe County doctor and soldier at Ukraine border aiding fleeing families

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A family doctor from Orillia and a soldier from Bradford joined thousands of volunteers trying to save lives at the Ukrainian/Poland border.

Both men felt compelled to help the refugees desperate to flee their homes amid the Russian invasion.

Brodie Fountain describes seeing young families, women and children targeted by human traffickers posing as rescuers at the border.

"They can walk out with a sign and say, 'Yeah, I'll take you to Germany. I'll take you to Spain, or wherever, and people pile up in the cars because they're fleeing for their lives, and they're gone," the Bradford soldier says, adding the victims are preyed upon after they finally make their way to what should be safety.

"It's terrible. It's disgusting. It's horrible."

Fountain is part of a group of volunteers made up of mostly military veterans.

He has been in Ukraine and Poland for two weeks delivering supplies to people forced to leave their homes and run for safety. He says some are stranded at the humanitarian aid centre.

"They're dealing with the issues of the red tape to get them through."

Meanwhile, Dr. Jeff Pitcher has been treating mainly women and children steps from the border crossing, most suffering hypothermia, stomach flu and infections from gunshot wounds.

Pitcher, a family and emergency physician in Orillia and Muskoka, is no stranger to providing aid in disaster zones, having volunteered with the Salvation Army after Canadian floods, Hurricane Katrina and New York City after 9/11.

Pitcher says once they reach the border, most people break down in tears at the thought of finally being safe.

"Today, there was a lady who came from Mariupol. Her family died from one of the shellings. She escaped," he says.

The local doctor says he went to help simply because he could.

"I know I have the skills that can help, and I was hoping I could help these people that have been struggling through this escape that they've done."

Both Pitcher and Fountain will return to Simcoe Muskoka this weekend, but Fountain says he plans to head back to Ukraine and calls on the Canadian government to do more for those with nowhere to go.

He organized a GoFundMe campaign hoping others would help him help Ukraine.

"These great people didn't ask for this, and they need our help to get through it," he states.

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