Save the Date

Anacortes, WA August 10-11, 2020

Hosted by the Swinomish Tribal PD & Island County Sheriff's Office

Presented by 1st Responder Conferences & Blue H.E.L.P. 

Co-hosted by the Island County Sheriff's Office & Swinomish Tribal Police Department

This training is for all 1st responders, police, fire, military/veterans, corrections, dispatchers, chaplains, retired 1st responders, spouses, professional staff, clinicians, spouses and all who work in the public safety field. 

1st Responder Conferences presents a multi-faceted two-day seminar and networking event for improving the mental health and wellness of our first responders. By discussing the real 21st Century issues that are consistently facing our first responders and their families, our conference will provide awareness, resources and action items to combat PTSD, depression, suicide, addiction, stress, and overall mental health.


1st Responder Conferences proudly introduces a line-up of credible nationally recognized speakers who will address matters that impact the personal and professional lives of first responders and their family members through dynamic and engaging presentations for the entire first responder community. This two-day seminar is unique in that your spouses or significant others who support you are invited to come learn with you. 

With a progressive and forward message of optimism and sustainability, 1st Responder Conferences goal is pushing past traditional silence and bringing first responder wellness to our Everyday Heroes.

Register now for $50 off! Early bird pricing until July 19, 2020.

Speakers and Topics:

"First Responder Mental Health Issues and Wellness"- Sgt. Mark DiBona (Ret) Public Information Officer and Board Member with Blue H.E.L.P.-  Mark's presentation will include his personal story and issues he endured througout his 33 year career as a first responder. You will learn about methods in which can help prevent these issues and the negative impacts they have. Mark will also discuss how to identify a First Responder who is struggling and how to get them help.  Mark Dibona began his Law Enforcement career in Massachusetts, June 1985. In 1993 he moved to Florida to continue his Law Enforcement career, retiring as a Patrol Sergeant in March 2019. Presently, he is the Public Information Officer and Board Member with Blue H.E.L.P. His mission is assisting First Responders with mental health issues and suicide prevention. 

“The Strength of Vulnerability”- Jason Ulrich, Washington State Dept. of Corrections, Correctional Specialist-Many veterans and responders struggle with today’s drama because of past trauma that we buried in order to survive and keep moving forward. As a result many of us developed skewed and largely unchallenged ideas of how we think we ‘thrive’ and are now dragging others into the misery and passing the tradition on. Jason presents a compilation of personal and research information intended to introduce veterans, responders, their families, and the general community at large to the peace and relief that can be found in being okay with whatever life will be. Jason has a diverse 22 year history in public safety from a law enforcement explorer and search and rescue volunteer to 15 years in the Washington State Department of Corrections, both inside the state’s correctional institutions and in around the local communities. 

"Families First"- Rebecca Bowen, School Counselor, Enumclaw School District and Founder of The Emotional Wellness Project & Rick Bowen, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission; Program Manager-- The duties of first responders and the lifestyle it creates can take a significant toll on their families unless intentional measures are taken to minimize potential negative effects and outcomes. Families can not only survive but actually thrive with their first responders if priorities and expectations are identified, honest communication is welcomed, and healthy practices are put into place. This course will offer a look into the dynamics of a first responder’s family and will offer ideas and tools that will prove helpful in facilitating healthy family habits and dynamics. Rick is a veteran of the U.S. Army, a retired law enforcement officer, and former Commander of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. In this role he has spoken with thousands of recruits and their families about this topic and about health and wellness for first responders. Rebecca is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve and has worked for over 25 years as a School Counselor and School Psychologist and is the founder of The Emotional Wellness Project focused on providing tools for parents and educators to nurture emotional wellness in children. They have been married for 34 years, have 3 grown children and will soon welcome their sixth grandchild.

"Positive Psychology"- Rick Bowen, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission; Program Manager-First responders may become vulnerable to powerful negative feelings and depleting emotions. The science of Positive Psychology contends that all people have the potential to take control of how events and emotions effect them personally. People have the ability to manage the lens through which they view the world and ultimately take control of their well-being. Techniques and strategies to maintain healthy practices and perpetual optimism will be discussed in this presentation.  

Following 5 Years in the U.S. Army serving as a Military Intelligence Officer Rick joined the King County Sheriff's Office in 1990. He retired as a Sergeant in December 2014 and immediately assumed his new duties as the Commander of the Basic Training Division at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC). After 4 years in command Rick stepped into another role and currently serves as a program manager in the Advanced Training Division at the WSCJTC.

"Financially Fit Part 2 - Taming your Income”- Marco Parzych (Lt Col, USAF Ret.), Founder & Executive Director of Mission Ready Finances - The focus of this hour-long presentation is on the topic of monthly spending plans, as this is really foundational to all that we do with our monthly income - having a plan before the month begins, executing the plan as best as possible with contingencies built. Whether folks are trying to build an emergency fund, payoff debt, save for annual expenses or invest for the future, the key is the monthly plan. 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.

Healing from Post Traumatic Stress Injury- Assistant Chief/Planning Scott Dorsey, Snohomish County Fire District 7- After stuffing feelings associated with a negative call for years, Scott realized that he needed to deal with those feelings. Once he realized this, he started a difficult journey of healing. Through EMDR therapy he was able to deal with those negative emotions that he thought he just had to live with for the rest of his life. Now that he is healed and no longer suffers in silence from those emotions, Scott believes in sharing his story with others in hopes that they too can begin the healing process. Scott has been in the fire service for 30 years. He started as a volunteer and has risen to the rank of Deputy Chief and oversees an EMS system of 300 employees. Scott has been appointed to the EMS and Trauma Steering Committee and lead the Pre-Hospital Technical Advisory Committee.

"Operational Stress and Resilience"-Dr. Shannon Meyer- Even though we all know that this work changes us, we rarely discuss the emotional costs of being a first responder. Incidents, large and small, impact not only our feelings and perspective on the world, but they can also result in biological changes to our brain. In fact, evidence indicates that operational stress injuries, like PTSD, result from physical damage to our brain, including changes in its structure and functioning. This presentation will discuss some of the ways that work can take a destructive toll on us, both emotionally and biologically. We will talk about what to look for in ourselves, how to look out for each other, and where to turn if things get bad. We will also talk about the ways that we can cultivate resilience and how we can insulate, and protect, ourselves from the toxic effects of our jobs. Dr. Shannon Meyer has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with advanced training and expertise in PTSD, operational stress, and secondary trauma in first responders. Dr. Meyer is a Victim Specialist who works for FBI in the Seattle area, a member of the Skagit County CISM Team, and a psychologist at the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat, a residential treatment program for first responders. Dr. Meyer and her German Shepherd, Odin, recently became certified as a Crisis Response Canine Team with the goal of serving first responders at natural and man-made disasters. Dr. Meyer is happily married to a retired law enforcement officer.

Why in God’s Name Would I Need a Chaplain?- Jeff Humphrey, Island County Sheriff's Office Chaplain- Stress, disappointment, pain and trauma are unavoidable in the lives of First Responders, LEO and Dispatchers. It just goes with the territory. As much as we want to ignore these sights, sounds and smells, they often attach themselves to lives. Day after day, incident after incident, these things can change our personhood and make the career that we once loved become the job that we loath. Chaplains can be a great service and resource of help and hope. How can your Chaplain help you? What do Chaplains do? Do you have to be religious to talk with a Chaplain? Can Chaplains be useful at a crisis incidents? Jeff will help you understand the role of a Chaplain in your life and how to utilize a Chaplain at an incident. He’ll provide practical ideas and ways to navigate thru the dark days of PTSI and bring hope to your life. Jeff Humphrey serves as the Chaplain for Island County Sheriff’s Office. He provides support for LEO, ICOM, Island County Jail and Fire & Rescue through ride alongs, coffee, fishing and tacos. He is also the Founder and Executive Director for Whidbey Community Resource Chaplains. WCRC provides resource Chaplains to the different agencies of Whidbey Island when a crisis happens and multiple Chaplains are needed for support to members of the community.

Continental Breakfast and lunches are provided on both days.

*Networking Social - August 10th, from 4:00-6:00 pm (Included in your registration) @ the venue. This is a great opportunity to get to know others, ask questions and share your ideas and thoughts with other like-minded professionals. Appetizers will be provided.

*Accommodations: Conference specials/discounted hotel rates available: Group block/discounted hotel rates available: We have a group block at The Swinomish Casino and Lodge ($89-$109/night until July 10 or until group block is sold out.) All reservations for the group will be handled through Swinomish Casino and Lodge's reservation department and guests may call this toll free number (855) 794-6563 and use group code FIRST RESPONDER 20.

Nearby Overflow Hotel Options: La Conner Channel Lodge and Country Inn 360-466-1500. Fidalgo Country Inn 360-293-3494

*You must register to attend. Seats are limited for this conference. Early Bird registration is open until July 19th and is $199.00. Registration after July 19th will be $249.00 (Plus Eventbrite charges) 

A limited amount of scholarships are availble for those with financial hardships. Please contact Amanda at for more information.


Photograph/Video Disclaimer Statement

1st Responder Conferences (1RC) reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at any event sponsored by 1RC , without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. 1RC may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by 1RC including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, books, newspapers, magazines, television, websites, etc. No video recording by attendees permitted.

Waiver of Liability 

Some of the material presented at this event may cause emotional triggers. We will have onsite assistance if needed. There will also be additional resources available if needed. This conference is not intended to provide counselling services, whether medical, psychological or of any other kind, nor to diagnose, prevent, cure or treat any disease, diorder or injury. This conference is certainly not intended to replace the advice of a physician. If you need expert advice, please consult a competent professional. This conference is only intended for “educational” use and it should only be used as a guide.

At registration we will have a waiver of liability and a photo disclaimer form that must be signed. If you have any questions regarding the waiver please contact us, so we can be of assistance.

Conference Flyer

Please download the flyer and post it in your organizations office share or with others.  We all can benefit from mental health and wellness training.  If we work together to spread the word, we will break the stigma, help others and save lives!

Anacortes 1st RC Flyer 032820 (pdf)

Swinomish Casino and Lodge

Swinomish Casino and Lodge

Need a Room?

Group block/discounted hotel rates available:  We have a group block at The Swinomish Casino and Lodge ($89-$109/night until June 1st or until group block is sold out.)  All reservations for the group will be handled through Swinomish Casino and Lodge's reservation department and guests may call this toll free number (855) 794-6563 and use group code FIRST RESPONDER 20.

Call to Reserve a Room!

Hosted & Endorsed by Agencies Who are Making a Difference!

Cohosted by the Island County Sheriff's Office
Cohosted by the Swinomish Tribal Police Department

Our Partners

Co-presented by Blue HELP
Sponsored by

Interested in Being a Resource Partner?

1st Responder Conferences would not be able to organize our conferences without the help from other organizations.  If your organization would like to help support our first responders and their families by being a sponsor, please click on the button below.

Looking to Volunteer?

Organizing a conference is a lot of work and we are always looking for local volunteers to help!

Justification to Attend the Conference

Do you need to seek approval from your leadership to attend our First Responder Mental Health and Wellness Conference?

To assist you in justifying your attendance to supervisors or other decision makers, we have developed a list of reasons for attending the conference and a customizable letter you can give to your leadership.


              REASONS TO ATTEND:

  1.   Network with others and see how other programs have overcome the challenges that your program is currently facing and take their lessons back to your organization..
  2.   Get exposed to excellent programs/resources to give you ideas about enhancing your program and helping your organization in ways you never would have thought of on your own.
  3.   Help to inspire others with what you’ve worked hard to accomplish.
  4.   Gain specific skills, knowledge and experiences you can immediately bring back to your agency.
  5.   Expand your knowledge, gain inspiration and creativity to build, improve and sustain your local health and wellness/peer support programs.
  6.   Build a network of resources with other  programs throughout the country and build relationships that aid you in your programs

First Responder Mental Health and Wellness

First Responder Mental Health and Wellness 

Justification Letter

1st RC Justification Letter (docx)