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Ventura, CA Tri-Counties 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 Santa Barbara Sheriffs Office, Ventura County Sheriffs Deputy Association and the San Luis Obispo Sworn Deputy Sheriffs Association, Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association

Endorsed by San Luis Obispo Police Department, San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office and Santa Barbara County Fire Chiefs

Venue: Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort 1050 Schooner Drive Ventura, CA 93001

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:

"Getting Well, and Staying Well as a First Responder"- Cassie Sexton -Ret. Dispatcher -Newport Beach PD -Public Safety Advocate for First Responder Wellness- A former 9-1-1 dispatcher shares her personal story of trauma and the road she traveled to recovery, helping attendees recognize signs and symptoms of PTSD in their own lives as first-responders.  Her story will inspire others to develop their own strategic plans of coping to maximize their self-care to ensure they have long, healthy careers and relationships.  Cassie is a recently retired Police Dispatcher after 14 years of service in Law Enforcement, was a member of the peer support team, has supervisor experience, and was also a trainer for her division. She is here to share what it looks like to get well, and how to stay well.

"Mental Health Mayday and Mass Casualty Mop-Up"- Stephen Odom, PhD, MFT, DAAETS, First Responder Wellness80% of First Responders are dealing with health or mental health issues. Most are stressed out, burned out and exhausted from working long shifts, mandatory overtime and more calls for service than ever before. Fill your toolbox with mitigation techniques for acute stress that will reduce the symptoms of PTSD and decrease burnout. This course teaches methods for dealing with traumatic impacts of catastrophes and calamities. We will explore protocols for managing and stabilizing one’s reactions within the nervous system (CARES).  Dr. Stephen Odom is a notable healthcare and addiction treatment professional with more than 30 years of expertise in the field. He is the founder and Chief Clinical Officer of First Responder Wellness and the founder and CEO of Shift Wellness - treatment and wellness organizations that exclusively work with First Responders and trauma-facing healthcare providers. Dr. Odom’s focus on First Responder Wellness was born of his family’s career backgrounds with the military, medicine, law enforcement, fire, education, and public safety, and was honed as he created and led specialty programs for physicians, nurses, first responders and their families.

"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.

"Sleep: How does Light, Sound and Temperature impact my Sleep"- Robert Sweetman and Lori Lane, Co-founders of SIXTY TWO ROMEO - The topic of sleep is of growing concern as one third of the US is short sleeping. First Responders and military veteran statistics are even worse. The lifestyle and work challenges that we are faced with absolutely impact our sleep. And our sleep impacts every aspect of life. This presentation is about how light, sound and temperature impact sleep from a neurological perspective. What is the science telling us and how can we improve the conditions we sleep in? We will talk about the little things you can do to improve light, sound and temperature in your sleep dojo.  Robert joined the Navy at 28 years old and did 8 years as a Navy SEAL. Robert tells the story of nighttime missions and developing insomnia. At one point in time, he was using NyQuil to go to sleep every night. Then, on April 23rd, 2017, one of Robert's platoon mates who was struggling with sleep, Ryan Larkin, took his own life. Robert dedicated his life to the study of sleep science and the relationship with mental health to help people like Ryan. Today he serves veterans and first responders with a non-profit sleep program called SIXTY TWO ROMEO. Lori Lane comes from a commercial real estate background. She moved to San Diego 13 years ago where she became involved with the military community. Through her non-profit real estate fundraising education efforts, she met Rob Sweetman. In 2022, Lori and Rob formed Creed of Peaceful Warriors and the SIXTY TWO ROMEO sleep program. In the last year, this sleep program created ripples across the country as it gave Veterans and First Responders the skills necessary to take back control of their sleep. Lori is a graduate of the SIXTY TWO ROMEO sleep program and a Certified Sleep Science Coach through the Spencer Institute. To date, she has supported 88 Veterans and First Responders enrolment into the SIXTY TWO ROMEO sleep program. Over the years, she has learned the detrimental impact that a career in the Military, Police or Fire can have on sleep health. Lori is committed to improving sleep health across the globe with a focus on serving those that serve.

"Post-Traumatic Stress- Injury- Demystified. What it is, and what you can do about it.”- Dr, Cherylynn Lee, Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office, Behavioral Sciences Manager & Clinical Operations Director for the Tri-Counties at First Responder Wellness- Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) is a grouping of symptoms that affect the brain and body in response to a traumatic event or an accumulation of stress injuries. Having symptoms of, or being diagnosed with, PTSI can be a challenge for public safety professionals, but doesn't have to be a life sentence. There are structural changes the brain undergoes as a response to trauma that can be addressed and corrected with the right kind of treatment. Learn about some of these physiological changes, their impact on our behavior, and tactics for how to start healing through Dr. Lee's dynamic presentation on PTSI in public safety. Dr. Cherylynn Lee is an experienced, compassionate and culturally competent first responder psychologist. She is a full time embedded psychologist with the Santa Barbara Sheriff's office and oversees their Crisis Intervention program, wellness and Peer Support team, mental health co-response program and is a member of their crisis negotiation team. Dr. Lee is also contracted with Santa Barbara Police Department for training and negotiation services. Dr. Lee is also the Clinical Operations Director for First Responder Wellness in the Tri-Counties region and has a private practice in the Santa Ynez Valley where she treats first responders exclusively specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Injury, stress management, substance abuse, mindfulness and job performance improvement. She has responded to several critical incidents and provided critical incident stress management services for dozens of law and fire agencies throughout California. Dr. Lee is a subject matter expert with CA P.O.S.T on both officer and dispatcher wellness and is a published author with PORAC magazine.

“Meditation Training for First Responders”- Detective Jeff Takeda, Simi Valley Police Department and owner of Takeda Training Concepts- This presentation will provide attendees with an understanding of evidence-based meditation training and how it can benefit first responders. Attendees will complete a meditation exercise and have their own direct experience. They will have the opportunity to ask questions after each exercise to further their understanding. Finally, best practices for starting both a personal practice regimen will be discussed.  Jeff is a former United States Marine and a 20-year-veteran of law enforcement. His assignments have included patrol officer, field training officer, SWAT team member, major crimes detective, and task force officer with a federal counter terrorism task force. Jeff is a trained mindfulness facilitator through the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and a member of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. He co-founded a mindfulness program at my police department and lead a weekly meditation program for veterans and first responders. In 2022 he started Takeda Training Concepts, which provides meditation centric training for improved decision making, better performance under stress, and overall wellness. Jeff has taught mindfulness programs to first responders, physicians, federal law enforcement agents, executive protection professionals, social workers, and community groups.

"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. 

"A Practical Look at the 5 W’s of a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing"- Tony Pighetti, XSB Regional Peer Support Team Coordinator (Santa Barbara County Fire Agencies)- In this presentation we will discuss the 5 W’s of a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), which will include the what, why, when, where, and who. The template of a CISD is straightforward in theory, but in the real world there are many factors that come into play when planning a CISD within any agency. This will be a two-part presentation with the first 45 minutes covering the mechanics of a CISD as taught through the ICISF system. This will be new to some of you, and review for others, but the message will be there are many ways to successfully host a debriefing with maximum results. The second part of the presentation will be a panel discussion with peer team leaders from law enforcement, fire, dispatch, and/or other first responders, and a trained clinician in CISM. We will discuss the different approaches to what, why, when, where and who is involved in their respective agencies. We will finish with a question-and-answer session with you the participant.  Tony Pighetti is a retired firefighter after 30 years with the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department. Late in his career he promoted into the Training Division and never looked back. During this time, he was involved with recruiting, training and preparing firefighters for promotional exams and he will tell you it was the highlight of his career. An unexpected realization happened during time spent in the Training Division, an exposure to a real need for a fresh look at the mental tolls the firefighting career can have on the firefighter, and most importantly the impacts it has on the families supporting them. Tony has been married to Andrea for 30 years and has 3 children, he thanks them all daily for being there for him during the good times and sometimes the very challenging times. Family is proven to be the most important factor in keeping a healthy work and life balance. Currently Tony is the Regional Coordinator for the Operational Area Fire Department Peer Teams within Santa Barbara County which includes 8 different agencies and jurisdictions. In the last two years the peer teams along with the support of culturally competent clinicians they have supported over 100 firefighters.

“First Responder Peer Support Team Lead Panel Discussion”

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 $300.00 (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 April 20th 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 group block at the Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort for April 19th, 20th and 21st for $120.00 a night.  Guests’ reservations will be made Individually through the Reservations Department by calling 805-658-1212, ext 1251 for in house reservations. Guests will need to mention the "1st Responder Conferences" for discounted rates or guests may use the online link below.  Please book before the cut-off date of March 19, 2023. After this date, rooms not covered by a rooming list or individual reservations shall be released from the Group's room block for general sale. 

Booking Link:


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.


Currently there are no mandated restrictions related to COVID. 

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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Refund policy

30 Day Refund Policy There are a lot of costs involved in organizing a conference (Venue, speaker fees, travel costs, hotels, catering, beverages, marketing, conference supplies, programs, lanyards, SWAG bags, etc.). The reason we list the 30-day nonrefundable statement on the registration website when an attendee registers, is due to having to purchase everything in advance. This is why we allow registrations to be transferable, so food and other items don't go to waste. There will be no exceptions to this policy.