First Responder Mental Health and Wellness Conference in Ocean City this September 9/10, 2021
Below is a description of the First Responder Mental Health and Wellness Conference being held in Ocean City this September. There is going to be a lot of good information presented and a great chance to fellowship and share ideas with fellow first responders from all around. Mike Wells, who taught our peer support class last year will be one of the presenters as well as our own Oversight Clinician, Heather Brown, who is cohosting the event. Please take the time to read the descriptions below as well as the attached flyer.
Ocean City, MD Police will be co-hosting “1st Responder Conferences” on September 9/10, 2021.
LOCATION: Grand Hotel & Spa, 2100 Baltimore Ave., Ocean City, MD 21842
Register at: http://1stresponderconferences.org
During the Seminar, the following speakers will present the following topics…
“Living with PTSD: The Journey Through the Unknown, Denial and Fear – Captain Chris Moore , Chesapeake Virginia Fire Department – To help our Brothers and Sisters realize the reality of PTSD in the first responder world and its effects on those that are living with it. I will share my personal story and experience of living with PTSD, how it not only affected me but affected others that I love as well. By doing so, I hope to let others know what to look for, know that it is OK to ask for help/how to get help and to help end the stigma that everyone is always OK. This presentation is geared for any and all first responders, to include but not limited to: Law Enforcement, Fire Service, EMS and Dispatchers. This topic is near and dear to my heart. I have learned about it through the school of hard knocks, unfortunately. I am living proof that PTSD is real, is a struggle (but is manageable) and effects more than just the 1st responder. I am not a certified counsellor, therapist or professional by any means but being a 1st responder with PTSD, I have a lot to offer. This presentation is set forth to shed light on Behavioral Health in the Fire Service, to recognize signs and symptoms and to end the “stigma” that you are weak if you seek assistance. It is also designed for families, friends and loved ones associated with 1st responders. Chris Moore started his fire career 30 years ago in Virginia Beach as a volunteer while working full time with the Navy Exchange until getting hired full time as a Paramedic/Firefighter with the Chesapeake Fire Department. In his 20-year career with CFD, he has been one of the Coordinators for MDA in helping every year to raise funds during Fill the Boot, he is an active member of their Peer Support team, was promoted to Lieutenant in 2013 and then to Captain in 2018. Once promoted to Captain, he became a state asset as a member of the regional Hazmat Team. Chris has been on numerous podcasts talking about his PTSD journey and has been featured in an article published in Fire Engineering. He has also spoken at conferences with his service dog, Lewis, to share his story.
“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.
“Decide to Thrive: A Culture of Wellness Starts with You!” – Marc Junkerman, Maryland Law Enforcement Officer, ICISF faculty member, and Behind the Line, Inc. member– This presentation is designed to help participants recognize that organizational resilience starts with a commitment to individual wellness. The overall message of “Build A Culture Not Just A Program” is supported by four driving themes: culture drives the bus, think left of bang, win by design, and everyone is a peer. This presentation has also been fielded to groups of specific and mixed public safety disciplines as well as to chaplains, clinicians, health care workers and hospital staff, emergency managers and military personnel holding various levels of professional experience. Marc is an active law enforcement commander in Maryland with more than 26 years of experience to include over 13 years serving in various peer support/Critical Incident Stress Management roles at the local, state, and regional level. During his tenure, he has placed a special emphasis on advocating for resilience centric management and leadership primarily within the public safety and public service arenas. This has led to the development and fielding of his “Decide to Thrive” program designed to assist individuals and organizations in creating a culture of resilience. He has been fortunate to serve as a presenter, trainer, and consultant for various clients and organizations. This includes continued support of such organizations as the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, the Mental Health Association of Maryland, the Maryland Mid-shore Crisis Intervention Team, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions, and the Office of Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services. Marc is a US Army Veteran, holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Management.
“Stress of a First Responder and Their Family Growing Stronger Together”- Corporal Matt Brown, Fruitland PD & Heather Brown, MS, PsyA , Eastern Shore Psychological Services and Behind the Line, Inc. -This is a unique presentation that addresses how the job can potentially impact first responders and their family. Without proper resources, the stress of the job can have devastating outcomes on the individual and family. The presenters will review four domains of a person’s life, which include home, health, community and purpose. Each domain will examine the physical and emotional outcomes on the first responder and family and how these areas can be strengthened based on understanding, support, and caring for self. The information will be offered from a clinical and personal point of view. Heather and Matt actively speak together to spread the word regarding the importance of wellness for first responders and their families. They are also have assisted to create peer services for all first responders in their local area.
Heather Brown, MS, PsyA, is working towards her PhD in Forensic Psychology. Heather worked very closely with local law enforcement and community providers to create and implement the 40-hour training and Crisis Response services to further provide assistance for the police and consumers to link high risk individuals to services. Matt Brown is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and has been a police officer for twenty-nine (29) years. He currently is a Corporal for the Fruitland Police Department and is their firearms Instructor and certified Glock armorer.
“Organizing Your Peer Support Team”- Firefighter Mike Wells, Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics Association Peer Support Coordinator– At some point of your career as a First Responder you have conducted some type of peer support. However, you may not have known what types of services that were available to share with the brother or sister. Our members are required to perform their job functions to the public hastily thus that is the expectation of our members when we need help. The topics that will be covered are, Where to find training for your Peer Support Team, What types of culturally competent services your team should provide, Crisis Intervention, Support Groups, In Patient Facilities, Therapists- Trauma, Marital, Addiction/Substance Abuse Counselors are just some examples, Grief Counselors, Other Considerations: Bio-hazard clean up, Financial Advisors, Chaplain Services and How to obtain buy in from administrators and our co-workers. Mike Wells began his fire service career in Wallingford, CT as a junior firefighter. While attending the University of Maryland, he was a live-in member at the College Park Volunteer Fire Department. In 2006, he was hired as a firefighter/EMT in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The majority of Mike’s career was spent in the Emergency Operations Command, however he also spent a period as an instructor for the Fire Training Academy. Mike currently serves as the behavioral health educator for the 2000 member agency.
“Surviving the Last Call”- Bethann McIntosh, Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Journey of the Heart -First Responders never run from the heat of the fire or fear staring into the wrong end of a weapon. Most dance with a lack of fear of mortality. They never think it will happen to them, and they never think about the “what if”. On a cold dark March night, Dan McIntosh suddenly passed away in the line of duty. Dan was a 13-year veteran of the Bensalem Emergency Medical Services, a Medic for the Bucks County Southern SWAT Team and the Bucks County Hazardous Material SWAT Team , a Hulmeville Borough Police Officer, and a Volunteer Firefighter for the Point Pleasant Fire Company and Nottingham Fire Department. This presentation is for the ones left behind. We often try to honor someone’s memory by dealing with the pain in unhealthy ways, instead of learning how to heal our hearts, see the smiles behind the tears, and overcoming the fear of a new normal. Bethann will share her personal stories and discuss how to work through emotionally painful experiences by incorporating the Grief Recovery Method. Over the last 10 years Bethann has been working with families of First Responders and was a key contributor to the passing of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act of 2012, expanding the benefit coverage for volunteer First Responders . Bethann is the Founder of Journey of the Heart, LLC and an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist.
“First Responder Resiliency Advantage”- Barry Jacobs, Horsepowers, Director of First Responder Research and Training– The training is designed to teach first responders how to build up and sustain their energy and resilience, especially during challenging and high threat incidents. The Heartmath Resiliency Advantage training includes helping first responders achieve the psychophysiological state of balance, also known as coherence. Achieving this optimal state of performance actually interrupts the normal stress response most First Responders experience in emergency incidents throughout their careers. First responders will learn skills to self-generate coherence and balance at will, which interrupts the body’s typical stress response, especially in the emergency situations first responders face every day. First responders will learn how to self-regulate the body’s mental, emotional and physical systems and as a result, they are able to increase their ability to perform at their best, maintain their composure and sustain operational performance throughout their careers. An important study conducted by researchers, demonstrated how effective self-regulation skills, such as those taught in the Resiliency Advantage training, can be for first responders. This study, Resilience Training Program Reduces Physiological and Psychological Stress in Police Officers, showed that Resiliency Training improved the capacity of first responders to recognize and manage stress and negative emotions in both work and personal settings. Barry is a professional and Volunteer Firefighter/Paramedic with over 25 years’ experience as a first responder with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Critical Incident Stress Management / Peer Counselor (25 years). First Responder Research and Training Program Development for first responders. Conducted Research (September – December 2014) with Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department identifying proactive / preventative skill based model to improve critical job performance skills of law enforcement personnel during high threat tactical force on force incidents.