About this conference:
The 1st Annual First Responder Wellness Conference is intended to raise awareness of the negative effects of stress and trauma on first responders. The daylong conference is open to all first responders (fire, police, EMS, dispatchers, E-911 and corrections officers and staff). It is also particularly important for executive leadership of organizations to attend. Special invitations have been extended to key elected officials. Municipal leaders who have responsibility for first responder agencies are strongly encouraged to attend.
This educational opportunity is timely as the number of suicides of first responders nationally continues to rise. In some agencies and areas, the number of suicides, and instances of PTSD, have reached crisis levels. The need to protect our first responders is critical to the safety of all Vermonters. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how continued exposure to trauma is dangerous without proper support. Attendees will also come to understand emerging practices to support first responder wellness.
The conference attendance is capped at 175 and registration is first come, first serve. The registration is $25.00 which includes light breakfast and lunch. Checks should be payable to the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) and mailed to VLCT at 89 Main St., Suite 4, Montpelier, VT 05602
8:00 Registration and Light Breakfast
8:30 Opening Remarks by Governor Phil Scott
9:00 A Journey Through PTSD
Our speaker will discuss the effects of PTSD including early signs from a responder who is experiencing it and how it can evolve over time. He will touch on his personal experience and how seeking help changed his life.
Speaker- Trooper Kurt Wagenbach, Vermont State Police (retired)
9:30 Surviving a Critical Incident
This panel will discuss the impacts the deaths of five teenagers on I-89 in October of 2016 had on the first responders and how they provided support to each other in the immediate aftermath and on an ongoing basis.
Panelists: Keith Baker, Williston Fire Department; Mathew Nadeau, Vermont State Police; Sarah George, Chittenden County State’s Attorney; and a Dispatcher (TBD)
10:30 Networking Break
10:45 What First Responders Need to Know About Exposure to Traumatic Events
Panelists will discuss what first responders need to know about their exposure to traumatic events, how the exposure can affect you, and when to recognize you need help.
Panelists: Lori Gurney and Sonny Provetto
12:00 Lunch and Keynote Address - Creating an Effective Peer Support Program
Firefighter Brian Nee will discuss how an effective peer support program for Firefighters in Boston, MA. has made a positive impact. Brian will talk about the program's components, implementation, and lessons learned.
Guest Speaker: Firefighter Brian Nee, Boston Fire Department
1:15 Emerging Best Practices in Vermont
Attendees will hear from our panelists about what new best practices for mental health and wellness are emerging in Vermont. They’ll also discuss what new options there are and how organizations of all sizes can access help
2:15 Town Hall Conversation- What are the Gaps in Support for First Responders
A facilitated group discussion for attendees to talk about what the gaps are in support for first responders. Attendees can discuss with each other and our panelists what the needs are for first responders and where those needs aren’t currently being met.
4:00 Closing Comments