BCEHS Central Okanagan Unit Chief, Catharina Goossen. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)

BC Ambulance unit chief a leader for women in the industry

Catharina Goossen works in Kelowna

In this edition of Women in Business, women were interviewed who are employed in typically male-dominated industries or in a position that was historically filled by a man.

These women share their stories of being underrepresented in their field and leadership roles – in the hope that their perseverance and success become the guiding light for the next generation of women in business, so they continue to break glass ceilings and meet their goals.

Women in Business shows who the movers and the shakers are in Kelowna and that there is always a space to share stories of successful women.

A BC Ambulance unit chief has become a leader for women in the industry.

Twenty-nine years in the field has not come without its challenges. Still, this experience allows BCEHS Central Okanagan Unit Chief Catharina Goossen to assist her crews when problems arise.

Working out of Station 340 on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna, Goossen is tasked with looking after her crews on the ground, ensures stock is ordered, and also responds to major incidents where her team is involved and may be injured. She also acts as a liaison to other agencies.

She landed in the role almost by accident.

Attending college for her bachelor in arts, she happened to take part in a first aid course. It was there she met several paramedics who were also taking the course. Immediately, she bonded with them. Years later, she still remembers that interaction.

“I found myself falling in love with the job,” she said.

When she first started with BC Ambulance, she started in a small town. At the time, there were few women in the force. Despite this, she was welcomed with open arms.

Since then, more women have joined the force. Now, the ratio of men to women in the workforce isn’t quite 50-50, but Goossen said it’s much closer than it used to be.

That said, Goossen explained a stereotype within the public remains; some doubt a female paramedic’s abilities.

“Oh, they sent two women instead of two men? You’ll never be able to pick up my husband,” said Goossen, recalling a conversation with a member of the public at a call. “We proved her wrong, and she actually stated afterwards — I’ll never doubt it again.”

Sometimes chivalrous individuals will insist on lifting items for Goossen — an offer she kindly refuses. Sometimes, she admitted, it’s tough to respond to these interactions.

“I’ve had some comments over the years during a call or two where the patient or somebody in the room says ‘oh, there’s no way you can lift that,’ and my partner, who’s male, turns around and says ‘she can lift more than I can, so you’re good hands.’”

It’s examples like this, Goossen said, which showcases the constant support she receives from her coworkers.

Although some may still be upset or angry when they see a female paramedic, Goossen said the public’s mentality has far improved from what it was.

“Those stereotypes may always be there, but I don’t they’re as noticeable. I think that people are realizing — and it’ll always come out when people are angry — but I think that it’s not acceptable in the workplace anymore.”

Being a woman in her role has allowed Goossen to support other women in the industry.

“There was a gentleman a long time ago that took advantage of the fact I was a woman and made me feel very uncomfortable. But being in the role that I’m in now, I can recognize those types of people, and hopefully, avoid somebody else being treated the way I was.

“I think me being in the position that I am in gives those females that chance to feel like they are supported.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

women in business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Jocelyn Hamilton/Contributed)
Black bear spotted roaming through Black Mountain

The young bear was searching for food in the Black Mountain area

The temporary skatepark will be placed between the Capital News Centre (in the parking area) and H20, pictured here (Kelowna Skateboard Association/Contributed).
Kelowna skateboarders hope to get Lower Mission park

The Kelowna Skateboard Association is helping a group of kids get a skatepark for the summer

The Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking member artist submissions for a summer exhibit called Enchanted: A World of Fantasy. Submissions are open until June 30, 2021. (VCAC photo)
Vernon artists’ fantasy worlds wanted for summer exhibit

Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking submissions for Enchanted: A World of Fantasy

Mamas for Mamas worked with local roaster Tug 6 to create three special blends. (Mamas for Mamas/Contributed)
Kelowna coffee roaster partners with non-profit for specialty blends

Mamas for Mamas has three specialty blends sold from Tug 6

A TacoTime employee hands a customer their order. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

A woman is hoping that her dog Ginger ran away from the fire that erupted in her Osoyoos home Saturday night. The home caught fire twice in two days and is totally destroyed. (Contributed)
Dog missing after saving woman from huge house fire in Osoyoos

The woman escaped the burning home, but she hopes her dog Ginger ran away to safety

Logging is proposed for a portion of Mount Ida, with the industrial park to the right. The purple portions are the proposed cut blocks, the yellowy-green are city-owned properties and the red and black dotted lines are the proposed logging roads. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief explains proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Mounties battled various sex crimes in the North Okanagan

The local RCMP sex crimes unit has been involved in a number of investigations so far in 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Most Read