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We welcome your stories, perspective and important information regarding suicide in first responders.

The First H.E.L.P. Blog

EP: 78 Beneath the Badge Family Style

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with Dave Dyke, a form police officer from Minnesota, about life Beneath the Badge They Didn’t Ask Dave had been struggling with the calls piling up inside him over the years. Until one day, he just...

EP 77: The Three C’s

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara talked about moving forward after loss and trauma. The 3 C’s Christy and Ciara talked about how moving forward can be so hard, but having healthy relationships with significant others and friends and family...

EP 76: Blue Grit Wellness- Eric Tung

In this  Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy had a profound discussion with Eric Tung, a highly respected police commander, department wellness coordinator, and peer support leader. They delved into the crucial topic of open conversations and the need to...

EP 75: The Calling – Greg Podolak

In  today’s Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara talked with Greg Podolak, a blended clinician for first responders at Halfwild Counseling.     The Calling to Help Greg’s story is inspiring and humbling at the same time. Greg came from a family of first...

EP 74: Is This the End?

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara continued conversation with Elizabeth Fiorenza. Is This The End? Elizabeth recalls the day Matty had tried to take his life, and she had decisions to make. Death or divorce. Elizabeth knew Matty needed help...

EP 70 In Honor of Brittany

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara spoke to Kelly Klaber, a mother whose life changed instantly and found her First H.EL.P. family. A Mother’s Pain  To say we had the honor of speaking to Kelly is an understatement. This was the first time...

EP 69: The Calling of the Chaplain

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara enjoyed talking to Chaplain Chaz Blackburn, a Nevada chaplain who advocates for First Responders and their family's mental wellness. Being a Chaplain  According to Chaz, being a Chaplain has done more for...

EP 68: Stigma This

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara had a conversation about a quote from a police chief that they read and how that mindset does damage to first responders. Words Can Sting “Our focus is to get our officers back to work where they can put it...

EP 67: So You Want to Volunteer and Give Back

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara thought they would change it to give listeners great ways to get involved in their community and beyond. Giving Back Giving back to your community or something you hold near and dear to your heart can be a...

EP 66: Amy’s Story

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara had the pleasure to speak to Amy Row. The wife of former police officer Vance Row whom we had on the show previously.  The Hard Talks We got to meet Vance and hear his story last week, and today we got to meet...

EP 65: Namaste Your Why- Vance Row

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara had the pleasure to speak to Vance Row, a retired police officer who is now a dispatcher and yoga instructor.  Physical & Mental Injuries  Vance told us his story of his years in policing, injuries on...

EP 64: What is Your Financial Mindset?

EP 64: What is Your Financial Mindset?

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara speak about how your finances can affect your overall mental health.  Finances and Mental Health The stressors of debt and the “control” over finances can burden and weigh you down, while also affecting your...

First H.E.L.P. December Newsletter

A Letter from the President Dear Friends, One of our families recently posted about appreciating every moment because we don’t know how many more we have; I then realized it’s mid-December and the year flew by. Luckily, we had many moments to appreciate in 2023, we...

EP 63: Are you Stepping Over Your Bar?

EP 63: Are you Stepping Over Your Bar?

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara talk about how setting your “bar high” can help you be mentally and physically healthier.  Are you stepping over your bar? Christy and Ciara talked openly about how changing the “height” of your bar can...

EP 62: I Am Recovering Karen!

EP 62: I Am Recovering Karen!

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk about the negative mindset and how to overcome Misanthropy.  Misanthrope According to the Webster's Dictionary, Misanthrope is a person who hates people. We may have a lot of hostility going around in...

EP 61: Where The Thankfulness is!

EP 61: Where The Thankfulness is!

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara speak about the challenges of the Holidays in First Responder families. Healthy Family Dynamic In a healthy family dynamic it is understood that the first responder will not be able to be home on the day,...

EP:60 911 I Am Ready To Talk – Nancy Vallee

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy talks with Nancy Vallee, a retired 911 dispatcher of 21 years. Nancy speaks frankly about transitioning from first responder life to retired, new career, and finding the new you! Retirement Nancy started a career as...

EP 59: You Have The Right To Go On Living

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara speak with Captain Dave Betz of the Chelsea Police Department and coping with the loss of his son to suicide.  Police Family  Dave, a Capitan at Chelsea Police Department has served as a police...

EP 58: The Running Change – Sgt. Alonzo Montanya

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara discuss Sgt Alonzo Montanya's dedication to the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office to break the mental health stigma in his department and countrywide. Mental Health Advocate  Alonzo has had his struggles. His...

EP 57: My Story Is My Voice

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara chat with Sara Clow about how her life changed five years ago and what she’s doing now for change. She is a remarkable human who shows such resilience! Her Story We talked with Sara about her story and courage...

EP 56: It’s Not Just the Meatballs

EP 56: It’s Not Just the Meatballs

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara discuss First Responder Suicide Awareness Week and the First Responder children. Grab the meatball and start rolling. #Honorthem The Children We talk about First Responder Awareness often, not only to help...

EP 55: From The Mouth Of A Child

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with Leslie Maginn, daughter of J. Daniel Maginn EOW 7/9/93. We had the hard talks with Leslie about how being a child of a police officer who died by suicide has affected her life and the trickle of...

EP 54: We Are Family

EP 54: We Are Family

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk about the family weekend in Dallas Texas.  First H.E.L.P. Family Every year family members who have lost a first responder to suicide are able to attend a weekend of honoring their loved ones. While...

EP 53: Fighting the Fire For Sobriety- Pat Shea

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with Firefighter Pat Shea about his rock bottom and how he has dedicated himself to getting healthy, and how to help others. The Injury Pat, a former Firefighter for Little Rock Arkansas fire...

EP: 52 Hey You Listen to Yourself

EP: 52 Hey You Listen to Yourself

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk about how actively listening doesn’t just mean listen to others, but also to yourself.  Christy and Ciara chatted this week about active listening, and how actively listening can help not just you but...

EP 51: Recognize the Good in the Past

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara chat about recognizing the good, in literally just about everything! You can see the good! It is so incredibly healthy and healing in recognizing the good, even in the bad situations. But also recognizing that...

EP 50: Tim Sears – C.A.N.I.

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with a Retired Fire Investigator and Stronger Families Director, Tim Sears. PTSI Tim talked about his struggles with PTSI and how he now helps families and first responders build healthy relationships...

EP 49: When Family Speaks

EP 49: When Family Speaks In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with a family member about the fight to save her family, while trying to get help for her former spouse. Jody  We are using the name Jody, to protect the family as they...

EP 48: Harry Fagel- The Route You Choose

EP 48: Harry Fagel- The Route You Choose

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk with retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Captain Harry Fagel. The Poet Retired LVMPD Captain They spoke with Harry about his trauma’s and how he has handled them through the years. How he has written...

EP 47: Miscommunication

EP 47: Miscommunication

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Ciara talk about the effects of miscommunication; Part 2 of Mental Wellness Wear Down. Break Down They broke down the basis of miscommunication and how it can not just affect your mental health but your life...

EP 46: Close the Mental Tabs

EP 46: Close the Mental Tabs

This week Christy and Ciara talk about compassion fatigue in a first responder homes; and ways we can begin to reenergize. Compassion Fatigue/ Caregiver Burn-out At some point in our lifetime, everyone will struggle with Compassion Fatigue/Caregiver Burnout. What...

EP: 45 Family Connection- Joette Doyle

This week Christy talks with Joette Doyle, a family member of a first responder that served for 36 years in the Fire Department. While serving, he lost his sister, mother, and brother to illness and his daughter to suicide.  Silence Speaks Joette had known her...

EP 44: Challenge Accepted

EP 44: Challenge Accepted

This week Christy and Ciara talked about the mental wellness of the family, including children and friends of 1st Responder. Ending Mental Health Awareness month, they touched on all the stressors of everyday life and how even children can be affected by this....

EP 43: Thank You For Your Service

EP 43: Thank You For Your Service

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara the meaning of Memorial Day. Never Forget We should never forget why we celebrate this holiday, thank you to all our brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country! Decoration Day...

EP 42: Christy and Ciara – Communication Elephant

EP 42: Christy and Ciara – Communication Elephant

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara discuss communication after suicide and the elephant it causes in relationships. Welcome Aboard Ciara Madrid, one of our many volunteers, has now taken the role of co-host on Beyond the 1st Response. I am...

EP 41: Doug Lowe – Fueling Firefighters

EP 41: Doug Lowe – Fueling Firefighters

EP 41: Doug Lowe - Fueling Firefighters In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara talk with Doug Lowe founder of EMMP about his new venture to fuel Firefighters while they fight forest fires in the Pacific Northeast. For The Love of Cooking Doug has...

EP 40 Dwayne English – From Cop to Couch

EP 40 Dwayne English – From Cop to Couch

EP 40: Dwayne English - From Cop to Couch In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy talks with Sgt. Dwayne English of Joliet Police Department IL, about how being a cop has made him a better counselor. Dream Cop Since the age of six, Dwayne had wanted to become...

EP 38: Valerie Groth – Stellate Ganglion Block Part 2

EP 38: Valerie Groth – Stellate Ganglion Block Part 2

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Steve talk with Valerie Groth, Director of Partnerships at Stella Center. Part 2 of the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) SGB- What is different now Christy decided to have the SGB after struggling with PTSD for over 30...

First H.E.L.P. March Newsletter

First H.E.L.P. March Newsletter

A word from our Chief Operating Officer...   Hello and welcome to the newest edition of the First H.E.L.P. newsletter.  We have great content this month, so I hope you enjoy it. I want to take a moment to welcome all the new families joining our tribe. I know you...

EP 36: Jillian Bass – Find the Positive

In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy talks with Jillian Bass, a radio host for Star 96.7 Fm. Jillian experienced an event that opened her up to understand that mental wellness is a top priority and has created a platform on her midday show for all her...

EP 35: Becca Willey – While You Were Away

EP 35: Becca Willey – While You Were Away

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy talks with Becca Willey, an army wife, mother of three, business owner of Radon Express, and board member of Naperville Salute, and organizations, that celebrate Veterans and First Responses raising money to give...

EP 33: It’s Ok to Feel Your Feelings – Jason Patton

EP 33: It’s Ok to Feel Your Feelings – Jason Patton

In this episode of Beyond the First Response, Christy and Robyn talk with Firefighter Jason Patton of Fire Department Chronicles and Fire Department Coffee. Jason 17 year veteran FF Jason Patton uses his personal struggles with mental health as motivation for his...

A Little Piece of Joy

A Little Piece of Joy

Oh the most wonderful time of year.  Filled with family, Christmas lights, decorations, good food, and how can we forget the presents?   But… for some, this is not the most wonderful time of year.  It brings financial burden, unnecessary stress, heartache,...

My Dad, My Hero, Not Just Another Suicide

My Dad, My Hero, Not Just Another Suicide

“You’re blue family until someone doesn’t agree with the way they died.” I will never forget reading this line in an article a few years ago.  And I’ll never forget this excerpt from my dad’s suicide note.  “The sixth interview could be of [name...

EP 30: Dr. Calvin Paries – The Truth About EAP #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk to Calvin Paries, DR, PH, LMFT, CEAP, who oversees a Profile EAP for Centura Health. The Myth About EAP "Why would you call the EAP? Now HR is going to know that you are struggling." This is often a...

Healing Through Trauma Symposium

You are not alone. Concord, NH - On 4 November, 2022 Christy Lister Presented "Protecting Both Sides of the Badge" at Healing Through Trauma Symposium. Discovering you are not alone was taken to an all-new level on November 4th, 2022. First Responders Coaching and The...

EP 29: Robert Swiderski – 22 Districts 49 Hours #BT1R

EP 29: Robert Swiderski – 22 Districts 49 Hours #BT1R

EP 29: Robert Swiderski- 22 Districts 48 hours #BT1R In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk to Robert Swiderski. The son of a Chicago Police officer who saw the effects of living in a first responder home, he started Running for Blue Lives...

EP 27: Danny McGuire – Built to Serve #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk to retired Chicago police Sgt Danny McGuire Jr. Now a professor at Calumet College and intern therapist at Augustine Wellness Center, he hosts his own podcast, Everyday Warriors. Support Danny wants to...

EP 26: Debbie Green – Quiet No More #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response Christy and Robyn talk to Debbie Green, a retired Public Safety Dispatcher 2 who wants to let everyone know the time has come to not stay quiet about mental health. The Headset Debbie admits that she would often picture the...

EP 25: Tracy Vitalo-Harwell – Shift That Space #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk to Tracy Vitalo-Harwell CPH-T, from Inspired Change Hypnosis and Coaching about how hypnosis can “shift that space” and how it helps first responders. What Happened To You When You Were A Child? It...

CA Firefighter Memorial Ceremony 2022

The Mikel Family along with Alameda County Fire Department members and Honor Guard at CA Firefighter Memorial 2022 Honor To say our weekend at the CA Firefighter Memorial Ceremony was filled with many emotions would be an understatement. From anxiousness and...

EP 23: Jim Marshall – Just Roll With It #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk with Jim Marshall, CEO of 911 Training Institute.  Just Jump Right In Jim Marshall has a fantastic insight into what is happening inside our heads. With a Masters in Psychology and years of counseling...

Suicide to be Recognized for Federal Death Benefits

Friends and Families,   Today we received the call we had been waiting for. H.R.6943 - Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022 PASSED and is on its way to the President’s desk for signature. We have been proud to support and endorse this bill for the past three...

EP 19: Bob Barc –  Clearing the Rolodex

EP 19: Bob Barc –  Clearing the Rolodex

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Christy and Robyn talk with Firefighter Bob Barc who has a passion for peer support and clearing the mental Rolodex. Mental Rolodex Bob started his firefighting career in a small town. The lessons started there along with...

Where are you Hiding?

Do you remember playing hide-and-seek? After the first game or two you know who you wanted to play with again, you know who was fun and who wasn’t. You knew who you could beat and who you couldn’t. In our childhood innocence, we didn’t want to play with the kid that...

EP 15: Chris Moore – The Mental Bucket Trap #BT1R

EP 15: Chris Moore – The Mental Bucket Trap #BT1R

In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Robyn and Christy have a discussion with Chesapeake, VA Fire Captain Chris Moore about your mental bucket overflowing into a dark place. Chris opens up about his “mental bucket” overflowing and how he overcame this with the...

Police Week – Honoring Those We Lost

Police Week – Honoring Those We Lost

Police Week, a place of honor, camaraderie, and a wonderful tribute to the law enforcement profession. Established to honor all law enforcement "designated the week in recognition of the contribution the police officers of America have made to our civilization through...

#ResponderReadiness Training in Elyria, OH

#ResponderReadiness Training in Elyria, OH

FirstNet, Built with AT&T, teams with First H.E.L.P. to support First Responders in Lorain County with #ResponderReadiness Training ELYRIA, Ohio – Apr. 11, 2022 First H.E.L.P. (Honor, Educate, Lead and Prevent) and FirstNet®, Built with AT&T, are teaming up to...

EP 11: Nate Fisher – Firearm Malfunction #BT1R

Rolling Up on the Scene On this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Robyn and Christy discuss what surviving a suicide attempt taught Nate Fisher, a retired police officer, active U.S National Guardsmen, and host of Surviving the Streets. Nate’s childhood dream was to...

Keeping your Composure in 5 minutes or Less

Keeping your Composure in 5 minutes or Less

Let's talk about keeping your composure in 5 minutes or Less. Maintaining focus in composure in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situations is an essential skill for first responders.  The thing is, when you’re about to respond to a call, you can’t...

EP 9: Ernie Stevens – Breathing Again #BT1R

EP 9: Ernie Stevens – Breathing Again #BT1R

On this episode of Beyond the 1st Response Robyn and Christy discuss the acronym G.E.B.Y. with Ernie Stevens from Crisis Cops. G.E.B.Y. is a mindfulness practice that helps first responders transition after retirement. Ernie Stevens is one of the now retired San...

A Journaling Workshop for First H.E.L.P. Team Members

A Journaling Workshop for First H.E.L.P. Team Members

Finding the Story Within - A Journaling Workshop.  On January 29th, First H.E.L.P. hosted Patricia Classon as part of our ongoing Team Member Professional Development Series for First H.E.L.P. Volunteers.  This two-hour workshop gave eleven...

Policing is a Strange Job.

Policing is a Strange Job.

Policing is a Strange Job. I was just walking into a restaurant to order lunch when I heard the call.  “Woman not breathing.” Then I heard the address.  Less than a mile away from me.  I took a moment to pause. I’m in a specialty unit.  I drive a patrol vehicle, and I...

#IWillListen ; #IWillTalk

#IWillListen ; #IWillTalk

The Invincible First Responder #IWillListen ; #IWillTalk #IWillListen ; #IWillTalk. The alert tone comes across the radio and dispatch announces that a criminal is in the street, carrying a fully automatic rifle and asking for you by name; or that a 50000 sq foot...

Responder Readiness Workshop – San Antonio, TX

Responder Readiness Workshop – San Antonio, TX

32-Hours of training made possible by FirstNet - Built with AT&T. San Antonio, TX - From January 10 - 12, Joe Willis and Steve Hough conducted a Responder Readiness Workshop hosted by Bexar County, Fire District 7. Denise Thompson, the District's Wellness Director...

If There Is No Wind, Row.

If there is no wind, row. (Latin Proverb) It sure is nice when there is wind, but when there isn’t we have two choices.  Sit dead in the water and await our fate hoping for another wind or choose to row.  The number of ways this proverb relates to First...

Talking to First Responders Stress and Burnout

Talking to First Responders Stress and Burnout

It's time we had a conversation about Talking to first responders stress and burnout. The stress and trauma first responders face every day becomes quite a heavy load to carry every day.  First responders have a greater likelihood of suicide, PTSD, insomnia and...

The Thin Line

September 11, 2021 It is popular amongst first responders to use thin colored lines usually displayed as flags or stickers to represent their chosen profession, but what do they mean and where did they come from? The first known use of a “Thin Line” reference was...

Speaking to Police Recruits in Joliet, IL

Speaking to Police Recruits in Joliet, IL

Joliet, IL - Christy Lister, the state representative for Blue H.E.L.P. Illinois is a frequent guest speaker for recruits. Christy lost her law enforcement husband, Kenneth Lister to suicide June of 2019 and is committed to saving other families from enduring what...

Axon Summer Camp

Axon Summer Camp

Los Angeles, CA - Steve Hough and Jeff McGill, co-founders of First H.E.L.P. provided the keynote address for Axon's Summer Camp.  Steve and Jeff offered insight to the Axon team on the physical and mental toll associated with officer involved shootings...

8 Ways to Observe No Brainer Day   

Here are 8 ways to observe No Brainer Day. No Brainer Day is one of those made up days that makes its way into the long list of mental health days each year. The founder of this day,  Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith suggested that one should stay calm and not stress...