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San Antonio, TX First Responder Mental Health and Wellness Conference

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Event description

Presented by 1st Responder Conferences in Partnership with First H.E.L.P.

Co-hosted by Krysus Human Performance

Endorsed by Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force, Cypress Creek Fire Department, San Antonio Fire Department,
Bexar County Emergency Service Dist #7 and San Antonio Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 624

Venue: Norris Conference Centers 618 Northwest Loop 410 Suite 207, San Antonio, TX 78216

This training is for all 1st responders, police, fire, military/veterans, corrections, dispatchers, chaplains, retired 1st responders, spouses, professional staff, clinicians, 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/PTSI, 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, seating is limited.

Speakers and Topics:

“Building Financial Strength in First Responder Families"- (Ret. Sgt.) Nicholas Daugherty, FinancialCop- Building Financial Strength in First Responder families is the premier financial wellness class designed for first responders, taught by first responders. We will cover the importance of financial wellness for your personal and professional lives. Topics include budgeting, how to avoid debt and pay off debt, the importance of will & estate planning, and how to build a plan to begin to win with money. Taught by instructors that have the heart of teachers to over thousands of first responders from over 2,000 agencies nationwide. Nick Daugherty began his career with the Grand Prairie Police Department (GPPD) in 2003 before semi-retiring in 2017 as a Sergeant. He continues to serve as reserve officer for Grand Prairie PD. Nick operates FinancialCop, the largest financial wellness training provider for first responders nationally as well as providing comprehensive fiduciary only financial planning for first responders. FinancialCops have coached hundreds of first responder families through almost every type of financial crisis and scenario possible. He also works with several first responder nonprofit organizations, focusing on financial wellness for those suffering from PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

"Resiliency in Writing"- Kevin Burke, Firefighter- Oak Hill Fire Department- Through an exploration of contemporary research, performance, and his own personal story Kevin W. Burke displays the importance of mental well-being and resilience for the first responder community.  Be it poetry, prose, or any kind of writing, having a creative outlet is as necessary a skill for survival as any.  Poet, punk rocker, and firefighter, Kevin Burke is a difficult individual to sum up.  The last 8 years of his life, he's been a member of the fire service, and the last five years of that he has been proud to be part of SAFD's Res51cue.  Prior to his time as a public servant, Kevin has been a long standing and seasoned artist.  He has toured as a musician and as a poet, shared stages with world renowned poets and grammy award winning musicians, and has always tried to make art that makes a difference.  Aside from three DIY chapbooks, his work has been published by Freeze Ray PressInto QuarterlyTimber Mouse Publishing, Button Poetry (video), and Write About Now Publishing. Kevin is also the 2011 Austin Poetry Slam Champ, 2011 Southwest Shootout Slam Champ, and the only two time Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival Champion, and currently the lead vocalist for County Hell (a blackened-crust-punk collaboration with poet Bill Moran).  Currently, Kevin is a new father, a partner to his wife/getaway-driver, and an increasingly vocal advocate for mental health, especially for members of the first responder community.  In fact, Burke is currently enrolled in Northwestern University's Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and has plans to become a therapist. 

"Bridging The Gap: Mitigating The Stress In First Responder Relationships"- Noel Meador, Stronger Families President & CEO, and Tim Sears, Director of First Responders for Stronger Families- Stress on the job is a normal part of every First Responder life. While not everyone who is a First Responder will experience PTSD, many of those who do, don’t have the tools to deal with this stress, and are vulnerable to the breakdown of their most important relationships and ultimately their mental health. Bridging the gap between how to manage stress on the job and using effective tools to communicate with loved ones is essential for the life of a First Responder. In this session we will be covering how to…

  • Understand the barriers to communication that most First Responders deal with in their relationship
  • Learn from the spouse of a First Responder and how they deal with PTSD in their relationship
  • Listen with empathy with the sole intent of understanding what your partner or spouse is feeling

Discussing difficult topics in any relationship using the Empathetic Communication framework that is proven to create a safe environment to share.  Noel Meador serves as President & CEO for Stronger Families based in Seattle, Washington. In this role, he is dedicated to strengthening families and marriages, ultimately affecting the community at large. Noel is the co-author of the Oxygen for Your Relationship seminar, which provides couples with tools and resources that help them promote authenticity and renewed vitality in their relationship. Over the past 5 years, 30,000 couples have gone through OXYGEN program and 1,100 + facilitators have been certified to teach the program. Noel received his Master’s Degree in Education and is trained in many relationship enrichment and counseling tools and is part of the John Maxwell Leadership Team. Noel lives in Dallas, TX with his wife, Karissa and four children, Drew, Noah, Myles and Kaylea.  Tim Sears joins Stronger Families with 45+ years in the fire service, having served in 4 different fire departments. Tim was actively involved in water rescue, tillered ladder trucks, ops, safety committee, fire investigator, hazmat, PEER support, board member on KFFBA Benevolent Fund and active in his IAFF Union Local 2545. Tim retired in 2021 from the Kirkland Fire Department in Washington State with many department accommodations for his 30 years of service.

"#ResponderReadiness – Expanding the RANGE of Resilience"- Joe Willis, US Army First Sergeant (retired) and Chief Learning Officer at First H.E.L.P.- Resilience is productive behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be developed. By expanding our individual range of resilience, we are more prepared to embrace life’s challenges, recover from setbacks and grow during periods of adversity and struggle.  Joe will share First H.E.L.P.’s RANGE of Resilience, a simple research-based set of five resilience skills.  Each skill has a variety of practices that can be used to broaden personal resilience to prepare us for a setback as well as real-time practices that can be used during a critical incident to quickly recover and stay on task.  RANGE is for everyone. The five skills fit well into an existing resilience training program or it can be used as a platform to start deliberate resilience training in your agency.  Both First Responders and their family can apply the First H.E.L.P.’s RANGE of Resilience in a way that fits their needs.  Get ready to expand your RANGE of Resilience!  Joe is a retired US Army Military Police First Sergeant who currently serves as a Training and Development Specialist for the US Navy. He is also the Chief Learning Officer at First H.E.L.P. and an Adjunct Instructor for Team One Network. Since his retirement in 2016 he also served as a Training Specialist with the Center for Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) and as the Director of Training and Business Development at Team One Network. Prior to retiring from the Army Joe served as the Operations Sergeant Major for a Combined Arms Training Brigade, Senior Enlisted Advisor and Tactics Instructor for the Department of Military Instruction at West Point, US Military Academy Equal Opportunity Program Manager, First Sergeant for a Military Police Company, and Special Investigator for the incidents at Abu Ghraib. 

“Mental Wellness Programs For First Responders...That Work!”- Chief Jason Corthell, Founder of Ironclad Wellness- Attendees will be fully immersed with Jason’s story through struggle and how he has found peace and strength from overcoming PTSD and other pitfalls associated with mental wellness struggles. This journey also includes the most up to date statistics, examples of suicides in recent times, and an overview of important documentation that all organizations should possess. Unlimited access to our program to assist in the development of any documents or procurement of resources to boast first responder organizations with mental wellness programs. Individuals will receive multiple handouts reflecting presentation materials, resources, and contact information for follow up if desired Division Chief Jason Corthell is the founder of Ironclad Wellness and has been a student in studying the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Post Traumatic Growth in individuals with himself being diagnosed in 2017. Jason has presented to many organizations throughout his speaking ventures. Being a first responder and promoting his message within the emergency services realm, he feels it is crucial to deliver his emotional and passionate journey to anyone who will listen. Jason is currently working on publishing his first book! Be on the lookout in 2024. Jason’s program is highly customizable in order to adapt to any first responder organization. Do not pass up an opportunity to see how your establishment can benefit from what Jason has been able to accomplish in his own organization. Jason is a 4th generation firefighter started his career in 2004. Jason also proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Chief Corthell is now the Division Chief of Training for his home department and also works as an instructor at Lone Star College Fire Academy. Chief Corthell serves as the Wellness/Fitness Initiative Director for his department as well as many other works within the organization’s public relation roles. Jason has a great passion and drive for progressing mental wellness in the fire service and beyond through both personal and professional battles and experiences. He has implemented and influenced many others in the pursuit of providing first responders and public/private sector organizations the help that they need. Chief Corthell holds two Associate Degrees, a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management, and hopes to finish his master's degree in public administration from Sam Houston State University soon.

“The 4 Pillars of Resiliency”- Austin Womack, Exercise Physiologist and Firefighter for the Austin Fire Department and Sebastian Olave, SCCC, Austin Public Safety Center- The objectives of this presentation are to define resilience in the context of first responders, provide a detailed summary of stress, our bodies' stress response, and stress management strategies, and lastly to explain how to practically maintain a healthy balance of 4 pillars of resiliency (breathe, sleep, nutrition, and fitness) in order to build a resiliency game plan and effectively manage stress. This presentation blends actionable steps backed by clinical research with the realities of the job that first responders face. By gaining a deeper understanding of how stress affects the body, and how the 4 pillars of resiliency all work together, a first responder can apply the information given in this presentation to prioritize areas in their life to become more resilient.  Austin Womack is an Exercise Physiologist with the Austin Fire Department. He also is currently serving the Texas Army National Guard as an Infantry Officer.  His coaching career started in 2013 and has covered nearly every area of the industry, from the high school sector to the professional sector including two seasons in professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals. Austin was introduced into tactical fitness in 2019 where he spent time on the west coast as a Wildland Firefighter. He was a 2014 graduate of Hendrix College where he earned his BSc in Kinesiology and was a 4 year member of the baseball team. In 2017 Austin earned his MSc in Exercise Science from Pittsburg State University.. Sebastian Olave has been in the strength and conditioning industry since 2010. He has worked at various levels including collegiate athletics, youth athletics, private sector, Olympic weightlifting, and most recently as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Austin Public Safety Wellness Center. In his current role he oversees the cadet wellness/physical training programs, designs injury mitigation interventions for personnel, provides training resources, and consults with all three Austin Public Safety agencies in varying capacities. He obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Kinesiology and Sports Physiology, respectively, at Texas A&M University. Sebastian is Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) through the Collegiate and Professional Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association as well as a Level 1 Coach through USA Weightlifting. His mission is to empower those he serves to achieve lifelong wellness, or simply put, “to help the helpers.”

“Why You?”- Kurt Buller, Retired Air Force Officer and the Owner of Intrepid Leadership Group"This presentation will be a compilation of personal experiences and stories that guide the audience to contemplate why they do what they do. Stories will encourage the audience to make their own value determination, serve others before themselves, recall the day they professionally matured and the high standards they set for themselves, and the importance of having a teammate to lean on during trouble times and always to seek advice from. As the founder of Intrepid Leadership Group, Colonel (retired) Buller is dedicated to optimizing individual and team performance to help others meet their full potential personally and professionally. Kurt Buller served 23 years in Air Force Special Operations as a Special Tactics Officer where he held multiple commands including the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Tactics Squadron and the 720th Special Tactics Group and led combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, Combat Search and Rescue missions in Bosnia, Peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Counter-Drug missions in Colombia. Kurt is a master parachutist, combat SCUBA diver, and graduated the Army’s Ranger School earning the Merrill’s Maurader’s Leadership Award for the top officer graduate. Kurt earned his Bachelor of Science from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College and served as a Senior Fellow in the Irregular Warfare Department of the US Navy Post-Graduate School. He is a Gallup-Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and regularly conducts individual and team coaching. He resides in Louisville, KY with his wife and two sons.

“Improving First Responder Longevity Through Yoga & Mind-Body Wellness”- Paige Arnone, Firstgevity Founder- This presentation gives detailed information on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of the yoga practice and how that applies to first responders. I take a modern approach and incorporate unique information and exercises to educate and keep everyone engaged.  Paige Arnone (pronounced ar-NO-knee), is the Founder of Firstgevity, a virtual wellness course that is designed to promote physical, mental, and emotional longevity for first responders. She's been in the yoga world for over 10 years, and for the past 5 years, she's been teaching first responders specifically. Throughout her years of teaching,  Paige has taught thousands of students, and received some of the highest designation you can get including an AZPOST certification.  Paige's journey began with years of childhood trauma that left her with debilitating anxiety and severe panic attacks. Yoga gave Paige the tools to process her traumas and live a more calm and controlled life, so it has become her life mission to give back to those who protect us every day by sharing the benefits of yoga with those who need it the most, first responders.  Paige developed Firstgevity, a yoga program specifically designed to promote stress reduction, increased mobility, and injury prevention. It's about building a solid and healthy physical and mental foundation so you can enjoy life now and for years to come. 

“Responding to Trauma”- Melissa Graham, Licensed Psychologist- San Antonio Fire Department- This presentation will address some of the responses first responders could have to trauma. What trauma is for first responders, and why they are more at risk for secondary trauma. Signs and signals that they need to look for and then some tips for resiliency. Melissa, Graham, Ph.D., in 2019 Dr. Graham was hired to start an in-house Behavioral Health Services program for the San Antonio Fire Department. Prior to working with SAFD, Dr. Graham was a psychologist for the San Antonio Police Department providing mental health care for officers and their families. She provided crisis response services and counseled officers who had been involved in critical incidents and was a member of the SAPD Hostage Negotiation Team and the coordinator of the SAPD Peer Support Team. Currently she represents psychological services in several community action groups and conference planning committees. Dr. Graham is the coordinator for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and the SAFD peer support programs. Dr. Graham earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Oklahoma and her PhD from Oklahoma State University. She completed her Internship and Residency at the South Texas Veterans Healthcare System.

Certificates of Attendance Available- All attendees will receive a certificate of attendance upon completion of the conference evaluation that can be used for self-submittal

Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) credits will also be available – 14 hours.  Continuing Education Units Earned: 1.6, Level II Training

Texas Law Enforcement: “Complete attendance of both days of the conference will be eligible for 10 TCOLE training hours”

Central Texas RAC is recognized as a Texas Department of State Health Services provider of continuing education (Course Number 600859). This activity is recognized through Central Texas RAC as an ongoing Continuing Education Program qualifying for continuing education. It is the individual’s responsibility to retain documentation of attendance and claim only those hours actually attended. Central Texas RAC assigns 14.0 hours of CE for this program.

Registration is $325.00 (plus Humanitix platform fees) and includes the following:
A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided on both days. The venue has limited food choices so if you have dietary restrictions or allergies, please be advised. There will be a Networking Social on October 5th from 4:00-6:00 pm @ 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 and beverages will be available for purchase.

If you are a tax exempt agency or need to pay without taxes please contact us and we will send you an invoice.

*You must register to attend. Seats are limited for this conference.

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

Please note everyone will receive a registration confirmation email from our registration platform Humanitix.  There is a possibility your agency's email security system may block those emails or send them to your junk folder.  If you do not receive a confirmation email after registration or an email two weeks prior to the conference, please contact Shawn at

Please note our 30 Day Refund Policy:
There are a lot of costs involved in organizing a conference. The reason we list our 30-day nonrefundable statement on the registration website when an attendee registers, is due to having to purchase everything in advance. We will allow registrations to be transferable, so food and other items don't go to waste. There will be no exceptions to this policy. 

*Accommodations: Conference specials/discounted hotel rates available:

We have a block of rooms at the Aloft San Antonio Airport for October 5th and 6th for $122.00 a night. Reservations for the Event will be made by individual attendees directly with Marriott reservations at 1 (800) 228-9290 or online using the booking link below. All reservations need to be guaranteed by everyone with a credit card, advanced payment, or guaranteed room and tax. Guaranteed reservations are held without occupancy for one night only. To avoid cancellation charges, reservations should be cancelled by 11:59 PM 2 days prior to arrival. Reservations by attendees must be received on or before Wednesday, September 3, 2023, (the “Cut-Off Date”). At the Cut- Off Date, Hotel will review the reservation pick up for the Event, release the unreserved rooms for general sale, and determine whether it can accept reservations based on a space- and rate-available basis at the First Responders group rate after this date.

Booking Link: Book your group rate for 1st Responder Conference

If the group block is full, please contact us and we will ask the hotel for more rooms.


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 counseling services, whether medical, psychological or of any other kind, nor to diagnose, prevent, cure or treat any disease, disorder 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.


Written consent may be given by speakers, but 1st RC staff will need to be informed prior.

At registration we will have a waiver of liability and a photo release 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 to share. 

Please note, sometimes we have last minute speaker changes due to unforeseen reasons.

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Tickets for good, not greed Humanitix donates 100% of profits from booking fees to charity

Refund policy

Refunds are available up to 30 days prior to the event