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    SeaTac, WA 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 the Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy

    Endorsed by Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, Sumner Police Department, Puyallup Police Department, Graham Fire and Rescue, Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff's Office, SeaTac Police Department and Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority

    Venue: Double Tree By Hilton Seattle Airport 18740 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98188

    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:

    “REFLECTIONS FROM THE REARVIEW: A Two Decade Journey to Find the Man in the Mirror”- Marc Junkerman, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation Faculty Member and Independent Consultant- The old adage about “hindsight being 20/20” becomes even more true with the passage of time. What advice would you give to the “rookie you”? We can’t change our past but we can certainly use the lessons we’ve learned to help shape the future of our professions. Come with me on a two-decade journey where I share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my service as a peer support, CISM, and wellness coordinator and advocate. This one-hour interactive presentation will use a case study to help participants adapt lessons learned from my experience and to implement holistic individual and organizational wellness strategies. Specifically, participants in this discussion will be able to:

    1. Identify “Four Realities” to sustain individual and career longevity and fulfillment.
    2. Describe the “buoy approach” to peer support and CISM operations.
    3. Describe the “Trapeze Artist” model used to help create an organizational culture of wellness.

    Marc “Junk” Junkerman is a retired law enforcement professional from Maryland who is proud to represent the iconic International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) in his role as an independent consultant and faculty member. Marc gave 33 years of overlapping service first to the country then to the citizens of Maryland. He is proud to be in his second decade of advocating and educating global audiences on the implementation and sustainment of first responder wellness. He also continues to support his region as a Mental Health First Aid and Crisis Intervention Team instructor. Marc holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lebanon Valley College as well as a graduate degree and graduate certificate in Organizational Management and Leadership from Johns Hopkins University. Marc represents the fourth generation of his family to serve in the US military, is married to a retired police officer, has two daughters in the nursing field, a son who is an active police officer, and a brother- in-law who works in corrections. It is this “skin in the game” which continues to fuel his passion for this important work.

    "Navigating Darkness: Allowing others to hand you a flashlight"- Dana Jackson, First H.E.L.P. Volunteer- With suicide being a topic that embodies darkness and despair, it is natural to want to avoid talking about it. It is a subject so heavy with statistics that your brain and your heart will try to stiff-arm it at every corner. Suicide is not something that is brought up at a dinner party or a company picnic yet in the proper setting, it can launch a conversation so deep that it can instill a purpose. Hear one suicide widow’s story of watching her husband’s light dim over time until it would eventually extinguish. Listen to Dana’s journey of walking alongside her late husband Erik as he struggled with physical pain leading to mental strain and his loss of identity at work and at home. Understand the role that PTSD had in their marriage and why, as a society, we do not speak up more to let our inner circle know that we are not ok. Gain insight on how to take the smallest of steps in accepting help through resources that are geared toward your profession. Dana Jackson is the widow of Erik Humphrey, a Community Service Officer for nearly 20 years at the Eugene Police Department in Oregon. Erik was on the Peer Support team early in his career and would later go on to serve as the President of their police union. An on-the-job injury in 2001 set him on a 13-year chronic pain journey that would ultimately lead to his suicide in 2014. Dana’s focus turned towards becoming a solo mother of their two children while navigating life without her husband who she had spent 26 years with. She works for a not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company where she also champions the company’s local volunteer efforts in her community. Dana is passionate about telling her family’s story in hopes that other first responders will realize they do not have to suffer in silence.

    "Financially Fit"- Marco Parzych (Lt Col, USAF Ret.), Founder & Executive Director of Mission Ready Finances This 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. Mission Ready Finances is 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. Marco 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.

    “Bridging The Gap: Mitigating The Stress In First Responder Relationships”- Tim Sears, Director of First Responders for Stronger Families and Scott Welch, M. Div., MA, BCPC -Stress is a normal part of being a First Responder. Although not all First Responders experience PTSD, those without proper coping tools are vulnerable to damaging relationships. Bridging the gap between managing job stress and using effective communication skills with colleagues and loved ones is crucial for a First Responder's well-being. In this session we will be covering how to…

     Understand the barriers to communication that most First Responders deal with in their relationship
     Listen with empathy with the sole intent of understanding what your co-worker or partner is feeling
     Discuss difficult topics in any relationship using the Empathetic Communication framework that is proven to create a safe environment to share.
    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.

    Scott Welch, M. Div., MA, BCPC, is a licensed mental health counselor and founder of Mosaic Counseling of Florida where he uses his refined skills and talents to help individuals, couples and families overcome a myriad of challenges. Scott is a dynamic public speaker who has presented nationally and internationally. He is a Master Level Trainer with Stronger Families. He is a national trainer with Prepare/Enrich, the world’s leading pre-marital and marital inventory, and currently teaches marriage and family counseling and adolescent counseling courses at Trinity College. Scott is a certified First Responder Counselor. He worked in the Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa Florida in the Drug Treatment program. He currently meets regularly with First Responder couples and families guiding them through stress and trauma that impacts their relationships. Scott is a family mediator with the Supreme Court of Florida and a Qualified Parent Coordinator. Scott works as a Social Investigator and Guardian ad Litem. His expertise with pre-marital, marital, and post- marital endeavors provides him with a plethora of methods and resources to guide families in improving communication, working through differences, partnering with one another, and parenting more effectively.

    "Organizational Stress- How to prepare an organization for crisis”- Assistant Chief Andy McCurdy, Sumner Police Department- This presentation will offer a view of “wellness” through a leadership lens, so that you can help prepare your organization and its leaders for resilience. You will also receive a toolkit that will help you develop sustainable peer support and wellness programs that address the needs of all members or your organization.  Andy McCurdy, MEd is the Deputy Chief of Sumner WA Police Department. Andy has more than thirty years of law enforcement experience, including fifteen years as a peer support leader, six years as a Chief of Police, and the last two years as Deputy Chief. Andy has taught locally, nationally, and internationally on topics related to leadership and trauma for the last twenty years.

    "Sleep Resiliency- The Gateway to First Responder Health and Wellness"- Mark Clayton, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue- In this short 1 hour presentation, Mark will discuss the importance of sleep as a foundational pillar of the First Responders health and resilience. He will elaborate on the habits and factors that make up good sleep, what a good sleep cycle looks like and how First Responders battle with sleep deprivation due to the rigors of our profession. He will also discuss the damaging effects of this sleep deprivation, some of our self-destructive habits, and what it looks like to have a great design for the improvement of sleep. This design will show the lifestyle changes including exercise, diet, and daily habits that play a key role in maximizing our sleep, and how we can take those steps to earn great health and resiliency to be our best for the public and most importantly our families.  Mark Clayton is 52 years old, a firefighter with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue and a certified sports nutrition advisor and health coach for BHB sports nutrition. He has been married for 29 years and in the fire service for more than 30 years now. He has two grown daughters, who are doing sports in college. One plays Soccer and another is an Olympic Weightlifter. Mark competed in Jetski, Motorcycle, Adventure, and Mountain Bike -racing. He also enjoys snow skiing, surfing, camping, boating, Jeeping, fishing and all sorts of adventures. So just about anything outdoors. Mark had numerous family members with health issues as well as some of his own to overcome through the years, proving to be quite difficult. Through the incorporation of great health practices, professional medical collaboration, and becoming a certified sports nutrition advisor and health coach, Mark has been able to reverse his health issues and continue being a great father, husband, firefighter and Peer support team member.

    "Trauma and Resiliency - Become more resilient to the stress of life"- Matt Quackenbush, LCSW – Matt has been a prominent advocate for change within the mental health community for nearly two decades. An exceptional public speaker with 300+ hours of on-stage speaking experience. He is currently engaged in a national speaking tour with Deer Hollow Recovery and First Watch Wellness, where he educates First Responders, Veterans, and their families on the profound impact of stress, trauma, and PTSD. This highly requested training program showcases the most up-to-date best practices that are currently being utilized to address the mental health crisis within the First Responder and Veteran Communities. Matt holds the distinction of being a Certified Mind-Body Bridging Therapist, specializing in a diverse range of evidence-based trauma treatment models. With extensive experience encompassing over 15,000 hours of trauma-focused therapy, he employs therapeutic approaches such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Psychodrama, and mindfulness techniques. His dedication to his field and his extensive expertise make him a highly respected professional within the mental health community. He was recently honored at the Health 2.0 International Healthcare Conference receiving the Outstanding Leadership Award due to his innovative work that is creating wide-spread change across the landscape of healthcare. He continues to make significant contributions by empowering individuals and promoting healing and resilience in the face of trauma.

    "Tactical Yoga Training"- Sheila Schmid, MA. Ed.S, Owner of Tactical Yoga Training, LLC Inside Job Yoga and Counseling- Tactical Yoga Training is a science and research based yoga and mindfulness training for anyone on the front lines (or behind the scenes) to help process occupational stress, physical and mental health as well as provide concrete tools to help the transition from 'on the job', to 'civilian life'. Sheila teaches privately in home, small groups and online when requested. She serves as a mentor to new and emerging yoga teachers, as well as support in studio ownership. She is a Master Teacher. She teaches a highly curated, professional, safe, accessible yoga class with beginning meditation. Her students feel welcome, in good hands, and get their yoga needs met.

    "The KFG Method. A formula to live better and lead stronger through moments of chaos and change"- Krista Ryan Founder of KfG Coaching, LLCOn October 1, 2017, just four days after completing her professional coaching certification, Krista Ryan was attending the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire, unleashing a barrage of bullets and terror that would become the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. As Krista ran to safety, she thought of one thing: keep f***ing going. This mantra quickly transitioned to become the foundation and action step for living. This was the birthplace of The KfG Method, a formula for navigating chaos and change and living life to the fullest. In this keynote, Krista shares this motivational framework that will help you effectively navigate chaos and change. KFG! Know. Focus. Go. Her strategies will help you overcome challenges faced through actionable steps to create the life you deserve. The guide you never knew you needed, Keep F*!#ing Going is the toolkit on surviving the unexpected and building an inspirational life. The individual that created chaos the night of October 1st, 2017 by firing into a crowd of 22k + intended to destroy as many lives as possible. From that moment on, Krista has made it her life's purpose to flip the narrative and empower as many individuals with the tools they hold within to live their best life. The KFG formula has been implemented within organizations, professional athletes and entertainers, military and first responders. Krista now travels the world, sharing this formula and empowering others to KFG in their own life. Krista was able to transition this KFG mantra from an action step of survival into an action step for living. This happened due to the courage and selfless acts from the first responders that night. Her mission is to pay it back by sharing this formula for creating breakthroughs through the breakdowns. And it is done TOGETHER... we are stronger TOGETHER. KFG!  Krista Ryan, PCC is a highly sought-after business coach, facilitator, speaker, and Workplace Performance expert known for helping clients effectively navigate uncertainty and promoting collaboration, communication, and confidence. Her global clients include C-suite executives, start-up entrepreneurs, individual contributors, elite athletes, performers and first responders. With nearly two decades of experience as a human resources director, Krista is the CEO and founder of KfG Coaching, LLC and a Room Tilter with Limitless Minds, a mental conditioning organization that aligns teams and unites personal growth with business success through the power of neutral thinking.

    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

    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 September 7th 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.

    *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: Group block/discounted hotel rates available: 

    We have a block of rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle for the nights of November 1st and 2nd for $154.00 a night. Reservations for the Event will be made by individual attendees directly with the hotel by calling (206) 246-8600 or online using the booking link below. All reservations need to be guaranteed by each individual 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 October 23, 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 or not it can accept reservations based on a space- and rate-available basis at the First Responders group rate after this date.

    Booking Link:

    If the group block is full, please contact Clint Ferguson to assist you in securing a room reservation.

    Parking: Discounted Parking rate of $12.00 a day local and overnight.


    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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