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1st Responder Mental Health and Wellness

  • 7 Dec 2023
  • 8 Dec 2023
  • Davis Conference Center - 1651 N 700 W Layton, Utah

1st Responder Conferences Presents 1st Responder Mental Health and Wellness

December 7, 2023 

0700-0800- Registration and continental breakfast 
0800-0845- Opening Ceremonies: Chaplain Michael Pless, Logan City Fire and Brigham City PD Honor Guard, Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem by Heidi Stranford

Opening comments by Brigham PD? 
Welcome: Emcee Chief Paul Child, Centerville Police Department and Shawn Thomas, Founder of 1st Responder Conferences 

0845-0850- Break 
0850-0950- “A Personal Journey that Taught me How to Leverage Wellness and Increase Retention of Employees”- Chief Josh Adams, City of Orem Police Department

0950-1005- Break 
1005-1015- FirstNET
1015-1115- “Mental Health, Resiliency, and the Value of Peer Support Teams”- Rita Larsh, Firefighter/Paramedic, Roy City Fire Department 

1115-1215- Lunch
1215-1220- RP
1220-1335- "You Are Never Alone" -A Personal Story of Survival, Courage and Vulnerability- Officer Jared Nesary, Yakima PD (Ret.)

1335-1350- Break
1350-1355- RP

1355-1450- "Trauma and Resiliency - Become more resilient to the stress of life"- Matt Quackenbush, LCSW, Deer Hollow Recovery Center

1450-1500- Break
1500-1600- "Trauma and Resiliency - Become more resilient to the stress of life" Continued

1600-1800- Networking Social

December 8, 2023 

0700-0800- Registration and continental breakfast 
0800-0805- Welcome 
0805-0815- RP
0815-0915- “REFLECTIONS FROM THE REARVIEW: A Two Decade Journey to Find the Man in the Mirror”- Marc Junkerman, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation Faculty Member and Independent Consultant

0915-0925- Break 
0925-0930- First Responder Wellness
0930-1030- “Bridging The Gap: Mitigating The Stress In First Responder Relationships”- Tim Sears, Director of First Responders for Stronger Families and Scott Welch, M. Div., MA, BCPC

1030-1040- Break 
1040-1140- “Trauma to Triumph”- Cassie Sexton, Mindbase
1140-1240- Lunch 
1240-1245- RP 
1245-1330- "Financially Fit"- Marco Parzych (Lt Col, USAF Ret.), Founder & Executive Director of Mission Ready Finances 

1330-1340- Break 
1340-1425- "Financially Fit"- Continued
1425-1440- Break
1440-1445- RP
1445-1545- "#ResponderReadiness – Expanding the RANGE of Resilience"- Joe Willis, US Army First Sergeant (retired) and Chief Learning Officer at First H.E.L.P

1545- Raffles and Closing

Speakers and Topics:

“REFLECTIONS FROM THE REARVIEW: A Two Decade Journey to Find the Man in the Mirror”- Marc Junkerman, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation Faculty Member and Independent Consultant- The old adage about “hindsight being 20/20” becomes even more true with the passage of time. What advice would you give to the “rookie you”? We can’t change our past, but we can certainly use the lessons we’ve learned to help shape the future of our professions. Come with me on a two-decade journey where I share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my service as a peer support, CISM, and wellness coordinator and advocate. This one-hour interactive presentation will use a case study to help participants adapt lessons learned from my experience and to implement holistic individual and organizational wellness strategies. Specifically, participants in this discussion will be able to:

1. Identify “Four Realities” to sustain individual and career longevity and fulfillment.

2. Describe the “buoy approach” to peer support and CISM operations.

3. Describe the “Trapeze Artist” model used to help create an organizational culture of wellness.

Marc “Junk” Junkerman is a retired law enforcement professional from Maryland who is proud to represent the iconic International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) in his role as an independent consultant and faculty member. Marc gave 33 years of overlapping service first to the country then to the citizens of Maryland. He is proud to be in his second decade of advocating and educating global audiences on the implementation and sustainment of first responder wellness. He also continues to support his region as a Mental Health First Aid and Crisis Intervention Team instructor. Marc holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lebanon Valley College as well as a graduate degree and graduate certificate in Organizational Management and Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. Marc represents the fourth generation of his family to serve in the US military, is married to a retired police officer, has two daughters in the nursing field, a son who is an active police officer, and a brother- in-law who works in corrections. It is this “skin in the game” which continues to fuel his passion for this important work.

"Financially Fit"- Marco Parzych (Lt Col, USAF Ret.), Founder & Executive Director of Mission Ready Finances - This presentation is aimed at restoring financial hope and encouraging all why they should, and how they can, do better with their personal finances. His goal is to serve as a catalyst, inspiring audiences to take action by presenting information in a new way that gets them to start thinking differently, believing that wealth building is possible for all and then taking the steps to get on a brighter financial path forward. Mission Ready Finances is a nationwide nonprofit 501(c)(3) with a vision of financial hope, peace, and success for all who bravely serve our nation as military members or first responders. Marco is an accredited financial coach and published author of the book, Mission Ready Finances, of which all sale proceeds go back into the nonprofit to further their mission and reach. Marco is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, having had the distinct honor and privilege of leading forces into combat both in the air and on the ground.

“Bridging The Gap: Mitigating The Stress In First Responder Relationships”- Tim Sears, Director of First Responders for Stronger Families and Scott Welch, M. Div., MA, BCPC - Stress on the job is a normal part of every First Responder life. While not everyone who is a First Responder will experience PTSD, many of those who do/don’t have the tools to deal with this stress and are vulnerable to the breakdown of their most important relationships and ultimately their mental health. Bridging the gap between how to manage stress on the job and using effective tools to communicate with loved ones is essential for the life of a First Responder. In this session we will be covering how to...

• Understand the barriers to communication that most First Responders deal with in their relationship

• Learn from the spouse of a First Responder and how they deal with PTSD in their relationship

• Listen with empathy with the sole intent of understanding what your partner or spouse is feeling

Discussing difficult topics in any relationship using the Empathetic Communication framework that is proven to create a safe environment to share.

Tim Sears joins Stronger Families with 45+ years in the fire service, having served in 4 different fire departments. Tim was actively involved in water rescue, tillered ladder trucks, ops, safety committee, fire investigator, hazmat, PEER support, board member on KFFBA Benevolent Fund and active in his IAFF Union Local 2545. Tim retired in 2021 from the Kirkland Fire Department in Washington State with many department accommodations for his 30 years of service.

Scott Welch, M. Div., MA, BCPC, is a licensed mental health counselor and founder of Mosaic Counseling of Florida where he uses his refined skills and talents to help individuals, couples and families overcome a myriad of challenges. Scott is a dynamic public speaker who has presented nationally and internationally. He is a Master Level Trainer with Stronger Families. He is a national trainer with Prepare/Enrich, the world’s leading pre-marital and marital inventory, and currently teaches marriage and family counseling and adolescent counseling courses at Trinity College. Scott is a certified First Responder Counselor. He worked in the Hillsbough County Jail in Tampa Florida in the Drug Treatment program. He currently meets regularly with First Responder couples and families guiding them through stress and trauma that impacts their relationships. Scott is a family mediator with the Supreme Court of Florida and a Qualified Parent Coordinator. Scott works as a Social Investigator and Guardian ad Litem. His expertise with pre-marital, marital, and post-marital endeavors provides him with a plethora of methods and resources to guide families in improving communication, working through differences, partnering with one another, and parenting more effectively.

"Trauma and Resiliency - Become more resilient to the stress of life"- Matt Quackenbush, LCSW – Matt uses his unique approach to help us understand the basics of the neurobiology of trauma and stress. You'll understand how stress and trauma impact your body and your mind and what to do about it. We also learn the ins and outs of how to increase your resilience to stress using some of the latest research and techniques in the field. Matt has nearly two decades of experience in the mental health arena. He is the owner and creator of Finding Strength and the Finding Strength Method, a cutting edge therapeutic treatment approach. As Deer Hollow’s Director of Education and Training, he travels the Nation with a team of fellow passionate healers, on a mission to educate all who are willing to listen that there is hope available to any who suffer from trauma. Using many different mediums to accomplish this aim, Matt is also the host of the critically acclaimed podcast the Finding Strength Podcast, available anywhere you get your podcasts. A Certified Mind-Body Bridging Therapist, specializing in a variety of evidenced based trauma treatment models including EMDR, Internal Family Systems, CPT, Psychodrama, and mindfulness. With over 10,000 hours of trauma focused therapy, Matt is considered an expert in the field of trauma treatment by many of his peers.

"You Are Never Alone" -A Personal Story of Survival, Courage and Vulnerability- Officer Jared Nesary, Yakima PD (Ret.) -Jared will share his personal battle with PTSD, and what healing looks like after residential treatment. His courage to ask for help, which in his words saved his life and career. “You are never alone” is a personal story of survival, courage and vulnerability and a great reminder to all that no matter how dark the darkness gets or how far you have fallen, you are never alone in this battle. Jared survived PTSD and won his life back. BIO- Jared is a United States Marine Corps Veteran with 22 years in law enforcement. Jared worked the majority of his patrol assignment on a swing or graveyard shift. Jared spent 9 years on SWAT, 10 years on Honor Guard, handled two Patrol K-9’s “Bruno” and “Yogi” (Da-Bear) was a Gang Officer, School Resource Officer, Peer Support Officer, and was the Department Training Officer, Lead Active Shooter/Rescue Task Force Instructor and the Lead De-Escalation Instructor for the Yakima Police Department when he retired in December 2020. Jared’s story was featured in Police 1 on March 5, 2022: https://www.police1.com/health-wellness/articles/i-want-to-be-jared-again-an-officers-story-of-trauma-and-the-process-of-healing-BucyfHhHMku4SfJ2/

"#ResponderReadiness – Expanding the RANGE of Resilience"- Joe Willis, US Army First Sergeant (retired) and Chief Learning Officer at First H.E.L.P.- Resilience is productive behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be developed. By expanding our individual range of resilience, we are more prepared to embrace life’s challenges, recover from setbacks and grow during periods of adversity and struggle. Joe will share First H.E.L.P.’s RANGE of Resilience, a simple research-based set of five resilience skills. Each skill has a variety of practices that can be used to broaden personal resilience to prepare us for a setback as well as real-time practices that can be used during a critical incident to quickly recover and stay on task. RANGE is for everyone. The five skills fit well into an existing resilience training program, or it can be used as a platform to start deliberate resilience training in your agency. Both First Responders and their family can apply the First H.E.L.P.’s RANGE of Resilience in a way that fits their needs. Get ready to expand your RANGE of Resilience! Joe is a retired US Army Military Police First Sergeant who currently serves as a Training and Development Specialist for the US Navy. He is also the Chief Learning Officer at First H.E.L.P. and an Adjunct Instructor for Team One Network. Since his retirement in 2016 he also served as a Training Specialist with the Center for Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) and as the Director of Training and Business Development at Team One Network. Prior to retiring from the Army Joe served as the Operations Sergeant Major for a Combined Arms Training Brigade, Senior Enlisted Advisor and Tactics Instructor for the Department of Military Instruction at West Point, US Military Academy Equal Opportunity Program Manager, First Sergeant for a Military Police Company, and Special Investigator for the incidents at Abu Ghraib. 

“Mental Health, Resiliency, and the Value of Peer Support Teams”- Rita Larsh, Firefighter/Paramedic, Roy City Fire Department and Rich Landward LCSW, MPA, MBB, LDI - In this presentation participants will learn how chiefs, managers, and employees can take the lead in beneficial mental health dialogues within their organizations to promote mental wellness and resiliency. Specific topics to be discussed: how to normalize the conversation about mental health, tools and resources for educating and engaging your workforce, impact of a strong peer support team, vetting EAP providers, and addressing workplace culture. Rita Larsh moved to Utah to ski in 1987 and never left. Rita has been involved at Snowbird as a Snowbird Ski Patroller and the SSP Peer Support Team Leader. She also holds a full-time position as a Firefighter/Paramedic and Peer Support Team Lead at Roy City Fire Department in Weber County. In her many work environments Rita has witnessed the struggles and havoc mental health issues and suicide can have on employers, employees, and families. She has become a mental health advocate in both her professional and personal life. Rich Landward is currently an assistant professor/lecturer in the College of Social Work at the University of Utah. He specializes in using Mind Body Bridging and Mind Shield to treat post-traumatic stress, anxiety and substance use in children, adolescents, and adults. Rich received his master’s degrees in social work and public administration from the University of Utah. Prior to teaching full time, Rich worked for the Veterans Administration Medical Center treating combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic behavioral health issues. He has also worked in highly impacted schools in Midvale, Utah implementing comprehensive school-based mental health programs to support students and families impacted by poverty and trauma. For the last 10 years, Rich has been training fire fighters, ski patrollers, emergency medicine providers and their families in Salt Lake City, West Jordan, Logan, Provo and St. George on how to use Mind Shield techniques to treat Brain Burn experiences.

“Trauma to Triumph”- Cassie Sexton, Mindbase- A former 9-1-1 dispatcher shares her personal story of trauma and the road she traveled to recovery, helping attendees recognize signs and symptoms of PTSD in their own lives as first-responders. Her story will inspire others to develop their own strategic plans of coping to maximize their self-care to ensure they have long, healthy careers and relationships. Cassie is a recently retired Police Dispatcher after 14 years of service in Law Enforcement, was a member of the peer support team, has supervisor experience, and was also a trainer for her division. She is here to share what it looks like to get well, and how to stay well.

“A Beneficial Wellness Journey”- Chief Josh Adams, City of Orem Police Department- In this presentation I will discuss my Personal journey in mental health and wellness and how organizations can leverage wellness to increase retention of employees. Josh has 23 years as a police officer in a multitude of assignments. In his career, he served as a patrolman, K-9 handler, SWAT team member, Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, patrol sergeant, sex crimes detective, and watch commander as the supervisor over a detective division in Orem. Josh also taught for several years as an adjunct faculty member at UVU’s law enforcement academy. He is a Father or four amazing young women, a champion napper, bad golfer, and a geek for history and evolutionary psychology.

1st Responder Conferences is committed to the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of public safety professionals and we work with leaders in the public safety professions to make this possible. We recognize that first responders are our greatest asset, and we feel it is our responsibility to create a climate that supports wellness and resiliency. We are dedicated to promoting awareness surrounding the difficulties of the profession and inspiring conversations that minimize the stigma associated with the stress our first responders' experience. We provide education, mental health tools and resources for agencies, individuals, and family members. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all who dedicate themselves to protecting and serving others.

Register: amanda@1strc.org 

Utah Mental Health Counselors Association is Utah's hub for enhancing the profession of mental health counselors. 
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