Volunteering an eye-opening experience for JIBC paramedic students in Kelowna

Kelowna PCP 15-06 Group PhotoKelowna paramedic students in Cohort 15-06 have been volunteering and supporting some of the most vulnerable members of their community


JIBC Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) students in Kelowna have embraced an opportunity to give back to their community, and in the process, gain a deeper appreciation of the challenges facing people living in vulnerable circumstances.

Over the past two months, PCP students in Cohort 15-06 based out of JIBC’s Okanagan campus have participated in volunteer activities with the Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter, Interior Health’s Street Nurse Community Outreach and HOPE Outreach.

PCP students Emma Jameson and Jenna Espersen recently shared their cohort’s experiences so far.

Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter

“Our class had an orientation session at the Gospel Mission, followed by lunch with the clients of the shelter. This was our first class experience interacting with people in a vulnerable life situation, many of whom were struggling with addictions.

“For some students, this was their first contact ever with this target population. This opportunity was an eye-opening experience to the realities of life on the streets and took us from our controlled, sterile classroom environment of school and merged it with the reality of what our future careers will hold.

“We also had the opportunity to go in groups and cook breakfast at the Gospel Mission for 75+ clients at 0630hrs. This was a fun experience and felt really worthwhile giving back to the community. The conversations that were had with the clients as a result of our integration was great as well. We spoke to individuals, both male and female, from all walks of life and an array of different backgrounds. There was a surprising amount of clients utilizing the Gospel Mission that were simply down on their luck, and needed a safe place to sleep and be able to receive food.

“The Gospel Mission relies on donations and volunteers to run their non-profit organisation, and has a plethora of success stories from individuals whose lives have been forever altered for the better from their engagement with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and the resources it offers.”

Urban Outreach Street Nursing

“KE15-06 students were given a great opportunity to ride along with Community Nurses from Interior Health to assist with giving the homeless of Kelowna a helping hand as they cope with the daily challenges of street living. As students, we learned about street-level harm prevention and community opiate overdose management in high risk populations and drug addicted clients. We got the chance to see how and where people on the streets sleep, live and manage day to day. Interacting with the clients in this lifestyle allowed us see our own lives in a different perspective and to consider the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves, both with empathy but more importantly, with respect.

“The routes are predetermined in the morning prior to departing, with specific individuals sought out on each morning shift. It was interesting to see the level of rapport that the Gospel Mission workers had over the Interior Health workers with regard to patient knowledge, as they see the majority of these clients on a daily basis. They knew the clients histories, likes and dislikes, and favourite items.

“Both agencies supplied the clients with socks, warm clothing, first aid supplies and treatment, food, and juice & water. There was no agenda pushed and no pressure applied to the clients to pursue resources, but if the clients were to state they would like to make lifestyle changes, the workers would throw 110% of their resources into the client and connect them with the appropriate agencies.”

HOPE Outreach

“As a group, the women of the class attended an orientation night at a local women’s outreach centre in Kelowna called “H.O.P.E. Outreach” which stands for “Helping Out People Exploited”. We took part in a discussion led by the President of the outreach, who herself has overcome addiction and street life and is now giving back to the community. HOPE’s mandate is to assist women living on the street or partaking in a high risk lifestyle, the tools and support she needs to change her path, which is accomplished through street level outreach as well as a safe house.”


For more information about JIBC’s paramedic programs and courses, visit the Paramedic Academy webpage.

One comment

  • Don Chartier
    November 25, 2014 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    I am so proud for the Kelowna paramedic students PCP 15-06. Job well done everyone. You guys are the best.

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