Join fellow podcaster Jon Sanders and I as we discuss making a difference beyond “the job.” on Sanders is a firefighter/EMT with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He serves as a member of SFFR’s Peer Support and Chaplain’s Teams. Jon is the host of The Fire Inside Podcast, a weekly show dedicated to the mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of the first responder community. Jon also serves as the Lead Pastor of The RESCUE Church, a non-denominational church with multiple locations in rural communities in South Dakota, Illinois, and Jamaica. He has been married to his wife Jessica for 22 years.
Join my fellow mental heath among first responders advocate James Boohower and I as we continue our discussion on this ever so important topic. ames Boomhower, BS, FP-C, NR-P, C-NPT has been involved in EMS for nearly 15 years in a variety of health systems throughout New England. He currently functions in the role of Critical Care Transport Specialist-Paramedic and Peer Support Director with Boston Medflight of Bedford, Massachusetts. James is also a Peer Supporter for the ECHO FAST team and lead instructor for Distance CME’s online continuing education program. James is working to realize his goal of promoting recognition, management and acceptance of acute stress in EMS providers throughout the world.
Join Steve Redmond, founder of Code 4 Northwest, and I as we discuss wellness and supporting first responders, especially when they are not on the job. Steve started his law enforcement career as a Spokane Police Reserve Officer in 1989.
In 1992, he was hired by Seattle PD as a full-time sworn officer. During his career with Seattle, Officer Redmond has worked as a patrol officer, mountain bike officer, field-training officer, DUI officer, traffic officer, motorcycle officer and is currently assigned as the department’s safety officer. Steve has been with Seattle PD for over 26 years.
IN 2013, Steve created a crisis line for first responders, EMS, corrections, nurses, and their family members that covers the State of Washington along with parts of Idaho and Oregon. Steve has had opportunity to present at many conferences around the country, as well as police and fire departments around the region. Steve’s presentation offers his unique perspective on SURVIVING THE JOB, surviving personal crisis, and surviving family crisis. This perspective is based on his personal journey through his own crisis, the chaos it causes, as well as his experience in assisting over 3000 individuals and families deal with their own personal crisis such as addiction, secondary trauma, PTSD, depression, stress and more.
Join the CEO of our sponsor, Joe Gorton as he guest hosts the show today. We are fortunate to be joined by Salt Lake City firefighter Evan Fitzgerald. Evan is doing some amazing work with peer support and this is one conversation you don’t want to miss!!
My name is Evan Fitzgerald, I also go by the nickname Fitz. I currently work full time for Salt Lake City Fire Department, and part time at North View Fire District as the Health and Wellness Coordinator. Establishing and managing programs that support Frontline Athlete wellness is my passion. After working six years as a health and wellness coordinator, I have motivated changes that have made a positive impact throughout the state of Utah. With the help of awesome mentors, I developed the Firefighter Fitness Coordinator Certification curriculum, which the Salt Lake City Fire Department currently uses.
I began building a powerful respect for the Frontline Community the day after I turned 7, when Firefighters and Paramedics responded to my farm house. As my brothers and I waited to be taken to school, a tractor accident instantly took the life of my Dad. After the Firefighters explained that nothing could be done, my older brother immediately began punching one of the crew members pleading for him to fight for our Father’s life. I spent the next 10 years analyzing the meaning of that day. I began to understand how honorable it was for those Firefighters to respond to the chaos of my worst day. At the age of 17 I was given a “paid on call” position at the Mountain Green Fire Department, beginning my career as a Firefighter. I then became an EMT and soon after became a Paramedic. After another 10 years of responding to the homes of devastated grieving families, I felt the burden carried by the Firefighter who, years earlier, allowed my brother to hit him and who also listened to the plea of my broken family. The compounding weight of exposures to trauma, sleep deprivation, and constant stress caused me to buckle. These experiences sent me searching for ways to support the wellbeing of First Responders after hearing and seeing similar struggles in fellow Firefighters.
As I began formulating an understanding of Frontline wellness issues, I searched out the specified certifications that would support my pursuit. I earned my Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as well as my Peer Fitness Trainer certification through the International Association of Firefighters. In furthering my understanding, I consumed any relevant research that I could. I found that fire departments not only needed the information that I discovered, they also need systems to incorporate the practical application of that information. Developing an implementation strategy was the next step so I took what I learned to the respected individuals in my Department and they helped me figure out the best way to present this information to the Administration and Union, who eventually gave their support. Using evidence-based information as the framework, I developed a holistic wellness system. I put this system in a 700-page text that has been reviewed by experts in Nutrition, Psychology, Exercise Science, and sleep medicine. It’s used as the main resource for our “Fit to Respond / Fit to Retire” certification. To bring all Frontline members together in this wellness effort, I developed a competition called the “Frontline Throwdown”, which is a yearly event held at the Utah Fitcon. This event allows teams from Military, Police and Fire groups to use their tactical fitness in a non-emergency event as well as provide a wellness training platform which is expanding this year to include 12 hours of training.
My success isn’t mine alone, not only have I had exceptional mentors, I also have an amazingly supportive family. My wife Sarah has assisted me with Firefighter spouse trainings. She’s patient with my long work days, and she definitely takes on more than her fair share of responsibility around the house. When I’m not at work I love spending time with her and our three boys. We enjoy traveling, swimming, Flowrider surfing, indoor skydiving, skateboarding, and boating. Each of my boys ages 9, 5, and 3 are awesome and contribute in their own way. The main drive behind my work is to give my family a living example of the value within the struggle to find meaning in chaos, and then managing the responsibility of that uncovered potential.
Join the well respected Blogger, Educator, and EMS Provider Amy Eisenhauer and I as we discuss the societal perceptions of substance abuse and mental health in the EMS world. Amy Eisenhauer is a dynamic presenter at Emergency Medical Services (EMS) conferences nationwide, raising awareness on topics such as provider suicide, response to hoarding events, and career development for EMS professionals. As a Certified Emergency Medical Technician, she has served the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services community as a volunteer and career provider since 1995. In addition to providing high quality medical care, Amy has taken on challenging roles as an EMS educator and training officer. Most notably, Amy is a contributing author for EMS World magazine and also hosts an interactive blog on EMS at TheEMSsiren.com, committed to improving the EMS community as a whole.