Our 2012 fundraising project was dedicated to The First Responder Support Network.
The First Responder Support Network (FRSN) mission is to provide treatment programs that promote recovery from stress and critical incidents for first responders and their families. The FRSN is a collaboration among emergency service peers (police, fire, corrections, dispatchers and emergency medical services), mental health clinicians, and chaplains who volunteer their time. FRSN's projects are as follows:
The WCPR program is for first responders whose lives have been impacted by their work experience. WCPR is one of only two residential treatment facilities of its kind in the world. The other program is the On-Site Academy in Massachusetts, with which WCPR is affiliated. The WCPR residential program provides an educational experience designed to help current and retired first responders, recognize the signs and symptoms of work-related stress including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in themselves and in others.
WCPR is a part of the First Responder Support Network (FRSN), a non-profit organization with a skilled and experienced clinical and peer staff specifically trained in trauma recovery. Licensed clinicians, chaplains, and peer support members from police, fire and EMS have joined our team and volunteer their services. Our goal is to help emergency service professionals and retirees regain control over their lives and either return to work with a new perspective on stress and coping, move on with their lives if that is a more appropriate decision, or simply enjoy retirement.
In 1999, a group of Northern California Law Enforcement, Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) peers, and a chaplain came together to help fellow first responders who were overwhelmed by the debilitating impact of critical incident stress. They created the West Coast Post-trauma Retreatsm (WCPR). If you are interested in volunteering at WCPR please contact us for more information.
The Mission of the West Coast Post-trauma Retreatsm is to provide a safe and confidential environment for the promotion of healing and education to those dedicated to the emergency service profession. Significant Others and Spouses (SOS): The SOS program is for emergency responder partners and spouses who may also be affected by these critical incidents (resulting in secondary or vicarious traumatization), but may also experience their own depression or anxiety symptoms and need a program to address their needs. In addition, Significant Others and Spouses may have their own trauma history, which is re-activated when his/her partner experiences a traumatic event.
The SOS residential program is for emergency responder partners and spouses who have been affected by their partner’s critical incidents (resulting in secondary or vicarious traumatization), but may also experience their own depression or anxiety symptoms and need a program to address their needs. In addition, Significant Others and Spouses may have their own trauma history, which is re-activated when his/her partner experiences a traumatic event.
The SOS program was started in 2004 as an adjunct to the program for emergency responders. As a police wife and a family psychologist, I felt that emergency responder families would benefit from a program like WCPR. With the help of peers and Dr. Mark Kamena (the Clinical Director of FRSN), SOS has developed into a unique program designed to address the complex needs of spouses and partners. This program is currently offered once or twice a year and at minimal cost to the attendees. This program is the only one of its kind in the country.
Attendees come for six very full days. The attendees and volunteer clinicians, peers, and chaplain all stay together at our beautiful retreat house on the coast of Northern California. Meals and lodging are provided at no additional charge. Over the course of six days and five nights, attendees experience intensive education, treatment, and self-care modules. About 6 attendees are in each group, and the group usually becomes tightly bonded by the end of their stay. Many have stayed in contact with each other following their stay at SOS and some return to SOS later as volunteer peers.
Most of the attendees at SOS have been women in relationships with first responders. Some have been doing emergency responder work as well. Their ages have ranged from 22-84. Some come before or after their partner attends WCPR. Others come to SOS but their partner does not attend WCPR. Some have been divorced or widowed (line of duty death).
While the week may include a yoga class, an art experience, and several relaxation exercises, there are also discussions and presentations on sleep hygiene, codependency, domestic violence, mental illness, PTSD, compassion fatigue, forgiveness and others. An Al-Anon and an AA meeting are held during the week. Tools and healthy coping strategies are modeled, taught and practiced during the week. The core of the program includes extensive debriefings in a group, individual sessions of EMDR with licensed and specially trained clinicians, and the creation of a 90-day plan for follow-up treatment and action steps. The presence of a chaplain throughout the week lends a compassionate and spiritual presence to the group. The ratio of staff (mostly peers) to client is about 3:1, so clients get a lot of support and attention from staff and previous attendees who return as peers.