Vernon School District launching first responder academy in 2021

First Responder Academy launching for Vernon high school students
WATCH: Along with standard subjects like English, math and science, some North Okanagan high school students will soon be studying protective services.

Soon, some North Okanagan high school students will have a chance to spend an entire semester earning credits while learning what it’s like to work as a firefighter, police officer or paramedic.

Earlier this month, the Vernon school board approved the launch of a first responder academy in February 2021.

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District Principal of Career Education and Curriculum Kathy Wickum said the program was created in response to student interest in learning more about those careers, as well as shortages of workers in B.C. in those fields.

“We want to make sure that we are developing and promoting opportunities for students beyond post-secondary where they will be able to find jobs,” Wickum said.

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The hope is to hold the training at a local fire hall and that students will come away with some basic certifications, including standard First Aid training and level 1 exterior firefighting certification.

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“They will leave high school with a resume that will be quite impressive with the skills and some theoretical knowledge related to those first responder careers,” Wickum said.

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The new program required the development of some made-in-Vernon curriculum, and will see working first responders involved in mentoring the students during their training.

Parents and students interested in the program can find out more at an open house for all the school district’s academies on Jan. 14 at Kalamalka Secondary School.

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