Orlando, FL February 6-7, 2020

Hosted by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola FD Benevolent & Osceola County Fire Rescue

Co-hosted by Blue H.E.L.P

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 America's Heroes.

Register now for $50 off! Early bird pricing until January 15, 2020

Speakers and Topics:

Posttraumatic Stress and Acute Stress in First Responders: Prevention and Treatment- Deborah C. Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP, Trustee Chair and Pegasus Professor of Psychology and Medical Education- This presentation will address the issue of posttraumatic stress and acute stress in first responders. After reviewing the prevalence of these disorders and using data collected from a clinical research center dedicated to the treatment of first responders, the types of traumatic events that most likely lead individuals to seek treatment will be discussed. Differences across firefighters/EMS, law enforcement, and emergency dispatchers will be discussed. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of evidence-based peer support strategies and treatment approaches, including programs currently being offered at the presenters clinical research center for first responders, UCF RESTORES. Deborah C. Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP is Trustee Chair and Pegasus Professor of Psychology and Medical Education and Director of UCF RESTORES at the University of Central Florida. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical research at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Dr. Beidel holds Diplomates in Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She is the author of over 300 scientific publications including journal articles, book chapters and books on the treatment of anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Beidel is the Director of UCF RESTORES, a clinical research center dedicated to trauma and PTSD. She has been the recipient of over $31 million dollars in federal research funding throughout her career. Her recent work focuses on developing effective treatments for PTSD for veterans, active duty personnel, first responders and survivors of mass shootings, utilizing technology to enhance effective treatments into standard clinical practice. Currently, she is the principal investigator of a contract from the Joint Warfighters Advanced Development Group to conduct a randomized controlled trial of three interventions for the treatment of military PTSD in active duty military personnel – including intensive outpatient programs designed to treat PTSD in two or three weeks. She also recently received another contract from the Department of Defense to develop a new virtual reality tool to allow clinicians to more easily design virtual reality scenarios for the treatment of veterans, active duty personnel, first responders, and survivors of mass shootings with PTSD.

"Post Traumatic Growth, A Positive Change" - Mike Washington, Seattle Firefighter- Mike is a Team lead with the Seattle Fire Departments Critical Incident Stress Management Team, which provides basic and immediate mental health assistance to firefighters, military, and civilians in the wake of high impact stressful situations. Mike will take you on his life journey and describe how he grew from the traumatic incidents he endured throughout his life and how you can make a positive change for yourself and others. Mike was recently featured in "Upstanders", a collection of short stories created by Starbuck's, showing various courageous people in America. Mike Washington has been a Seattle firefighter for 25 years. Mike is HAZMAT, Aircraft Rescue Firefighter and Wildland Fire certified. Mike is also a member of the Puget Sound USAR Team. Mike is a member of the Seattle Fire Departments Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM ) response team.. Mike was recognized by the Seattle Fire Department as Community Service Member of the Year in 2016. Mike is also the Washington State Fire Service Representative at the Washington State Fusion Center. Mike served a tour at the National Counter Terrorism Center in Washington . Mike is a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant serving a total of 23 years of service and 4 combat tours. Mike is a member of Team Rubicon, an internationally recognized veteran’s volunteer disaster relief organization. Mike holds a Master of Strategic Intelligence from American Military University.

"Financially Fit"- Marco Parzych; Ret. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Financial Coach, Founder & Executive Director for Mission Ready Finances - 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. He 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. Marco's 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.

"Processing Stress, Enhancing Performance & Introduction to YFFR"- Olivia Mead, Founder of Yoga for First Responders -Olivia will be introducing the original intent behind the practice of yoga, why it’s beneficial specifically to public safety professionals as well as addressing the misconceptions about yoga and how these misconceptions have isolated the first responder culture from this useful tool. Olivia will touch on the “why” and “what” of yoga. She will familiarize on how the nervous system functions and is affected by this line work. She will explain how these effects can either be debilitating, or, by changing the experience of stress enhance abilities and longevity of one’s career as well as fulfillment in life as a whole. Olivia is a life-long yoga practitioner and has been teaching yoga since 2003 having studied with many master teachers around the country as well as in Rishikesh, India. Her education for teaching segments of the population that are at-risk for Post Traumatic Stress and Vicarious Traumatization began by becoming certified in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga under Yoga Warriors International. She started working with veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and active military specifically before bringing this work to first responders. While living in Los Angeles, Olivia adapted her offering of yoga to veterans to fit the first responder population by working directly with the Los Angeles Fire Department and department psychologist, Dr. Robert Scott. From there she taught weekly yoga classes at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Training Center, as well as presenting training on yoga and the neurological system for LAFD’s Peer Support Team, and special workshops for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). She continues to work with LAPD’s Behavioral Sciences Services by partnering for special training events including The Smart Detective for International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Post Traumatic Stress, A Spouse's Perspective- Rebecca Ferreira Sherman, RN- Rebecca is both a spouse and mother to first responders and her heart lies with working with first responders, addressing their addiction, trauma, PTS and assisting families through the arduous journey. Rebecca is active in mentoring the spouses of first responders having been through the same ordeal with her own spouse. Rebecca is a native of Canada where she completed her MSN in Nursing. Following her graduation, she was recruited by HCA Hospitals in Florida. Over her 27-year nursing career she has provided care in areas of pediatrics, cardiac medical surgical, occupational health with Florida Power and Light, Correctional care with Martin County Sheriff Department, but her passion is in psychiatric and addiction medicine. For the past 14 years Rebecca has been employed with Florida Center for Recovery where she was the Director of Nursing and Supervisor of Utilization Review. Her current role with Florida Center for Recovery is education and the First Responder PTS program.

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. 

Operational Stress and Resilience- Dr. Shannon Meyer, Victim Specialist, FBI;  Police Instructor, Washington State CJTC; Adjunct Faculty, Seattle University - 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.

Personal Debrief- Captain Fred Hinderman, Osceola County Sheriff's Office- Fred will be sharing his personal story about his three shootings not so much from a tactical side, but the emotional side of things. He will specifically explain the effects his shootings had on him on a personal level and his family.  Fred will also be sharing how he overcame so many difficult hurdles along the way and his positive growth to get to where he is today.  Fred has worked for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office since 1997. He has been assigned to many areas throughout his career, which includes patrol, the community response team, sex offender unit, property crimes, grand theft auto, and economic crimes.

Continental Breakfast and lunches are provided on both days.

*Networking Social - February 6th, from 4:00-6:00 pm (Included in your registration) @ the Celebration Community Church. 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.

*You must register to attend. Seats are limited for this conference. Early Bird registration is open until January 30th and is $199.00. Registration after January 30th 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.

Group block/discounted hotel rates available:  We have a group block at The Grand Orlando Resort($89/night until Jan 7th or until group block is sold out.) The Resort fee is waived and the parking fee is reduced to $5.00 a day plus tax. To book you room please call 407-396-7000 and tell them you would like to book a room under the 1st Responder Conferences block or click on the link below to book now!

Book A Room


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.

To download a flyer please visit or contact us for flyers, basic info letters, and sponsor/industry partner/vendor forms for your organizations or to share.

Click Below to Register!

Meet Our Speakers!

Check out this great video

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!

Orlando 1st Responder Conference Flyer (pdf)


Grand Orlando Resort

Need a Room?

Group block/discounted hotel rates available:  We have a group block at The Grand Orlando Resort($89/night until Jan 7th or until group block is sold out.) The Resort fee is waived and the parking fee is reduced to $5.00 a day plus tax. To book you room please call 407-396-7000 and tell them you are with the 1st Responder Conferences group or click on the Book A Room button. For more information go to

Call to Reserve a Room!

Hosted & Endorsed by Agencies Who are Making a Difference!


Our Partners


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


Justification Letter

1st RC Justification Letter (docx)