University of Calgary

Dozens of students answer call for help at aid lineups

UToday HomeJuly 4, 2013

Leah Standing with fellow nursing student Kelsey Schoen at Queen Elizabeth High School, one of Calgary’s Fund Distribution Centres.Leah Standing with fellow nursing student Kelsey Schoen at Queen Elizabeth High School, one of Calgary’s Fund Distribution Centres.The urgent call came on Saturday, June 29 from Lisa Young, dean and vice-provost (graduate studies) and a member of the task force co-ordinating the University of Calgary’s response to the flood.

Alberta Health Services was looking for students from nursing and medicine to volunteer at the province’s Fund Distribution Centres. In less than 12 hours, 49 students and alumni had responded to the request and were on the job on Canada Day at four locations. “The response was phenomenal, but I’m not surprised,” says Dave Patterson, nursing practice instructor who helped co-ordinate the faculty’s participation in this activity as well as the assistance provided to evacuees in the university’s residence.

“I watched our students work full-out from Monday to Friday last week and then want to come back this week to help out more. They are eager to help wherever they can.”

Third-year student Leah Standing didn’t hesitate when she saw the request for volunteers on Nursing’s Blackboard site. “My home wasn’t personally affected by the flooding but I had heard many stories of the difficulties others had to face,” says Standing. “I wanted to help those who weren’t as fortunate as I was, so when this volunteering opportunity came up, I thought it would be a great chance to put some of my nursing skills into practice, as well as hear the stories of some of the difficulties others faced.” Duties at the Fund Distribution Centre include delivering water to people waiting in line to receive financial aid, watching for signs of heat stroke, and generally checking in on everyone to ensure their well-being.

“The waiting time was long, so people were very grateful to be receiving water and sunscreen on such a hot day,” continues Standing, whose volunteer day was the hottest of the year so far (Tuesday). “I never thought that doing something so minor could make people so happy. All the volunteers were doing a great job of keeping people hydrated and making sure they weren’t getting heat exhaustion. We only had to deal with a few minor cases, which were taken care of very quickly by the healthcare volunteers on site.”

Nursing students are still working with displaced people on campus and Patterson says several students are also heading to Ambrose University where more evacuees are housed. They will be working on a needs assessment, as well as other activities put into action by the university since the start of the evacuation.

“I cannot tell you how many comments we have received about the nursing students and their instructors,” says Patterson. “It has also has been a great opportunity for these students to see their instructors practice what they teach.”