DENVER – After months of wildfires, a global pandemic and other emergencies, during the first week of May, a group of about 30 Denver metro firefighters and police officers are learning new ways to deal with the stressors of the job.
“It's our goal to deliver them the tools they need to find their "1 percent better" every single day,” said Ramon Resop, O2X western region business manager.
O2X is a veteran and Navy Seal founded organization that provides performance programs for first responders with a focus on mental health resiliency.
“We are here courtesy of the First Responder Center of Excellence,” said Resop, who is based in San Diego. “We try to break the stigma of not talking about the things that keep us up late at night.”
Throughout the week, Resop and others will teach the first responders how to improve their eating, get more sleep, exercise for stress relief and how to deploy a resilience mindset.
“Firefighters and first responders are very good at compartmentalizing and not necessarily addressing the things that they need to get addressed,” Resop said. “We share with them our own stories of struggles with mental health, and then we share with them the wins that we experienced for mental health, too.”
Denver Fire Department Lt. Jackie Fehr, who is also a wellness coordinator, is participating in the week-long workshop.
“I think it was hard for some of these people to take a break from their normal jobs because we are workhorses,” Fehr said. “We're in a time where we're short staffed, so we're getting mandatory over times, like across the board. So, for us to take a break and actually work on ourselves is huge for mental health.”
Fehr says after this week, she plans to build on everything she’s learning.
“Too many people that I see in my wellness coordinator job want to make wholesale changes. But those little things add up over time,” Fehr said.
“I've spent a career being in combat and seeing, you know, major casualties, seeing wounded women and children,” Resop said.
Resop says it wasn’t until he began focusing on his mental health that he became an effective leader.
“My personal message is… ask for help. It’s OK,” Resop said.
Resop says most people become first responders to help others, but it’s also important to know when to take care of yourself.