Organization designed to help first responders expands to Oklahoma

A Texas-based organization designed to help first responders is now ready to help those in Oklahoma.

F1RST leaders hope the program in Oklahoma will create a new standard of wellness for all first responders.

Co-founder Dr. Heather Twedell says first responders need better access to physical and mental health resources because they sacrifice so much.

F1RST began two and a half years ago in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is now in its initial phase in Wellston, Oklahoma with plans to expand to other communities across the state.

F1RST features a team of people who provide support to first responders and their families for the challenges they face every day.

Dr Twedell added that many do not receive training in how to respond to repeated trauma and high stress.

Dr. Twedell hopes the F1RST program is a preventative approach to helping first responders before they face major challenges in life. This includes access to mental health care providers, exercise physiologists and dietitians.

According to Dr. Twedell, statistics show that rates of suicide, anxiety, substance abuse and divorce are higher among first responders than among those who do not work in a similar field and she hopes to help reduce them through this work.

“When someone’s nervous system is left in that flight or fight in survival mode. They have major consequences not only on their medical health, their relationships, their sleep, their day-to-day functioning. They need all the support from the experts who can help never make the job easier, but make some of these things tolerable,” said Dr. Heather Twedell.

Dr. Twedell thanks the many law enforcement and non-profit organizations that continue to partner with F1RST to make their operations possible. She says they are also looking to expand their services statewide.

“Let me know that what we do in the DFW The area has not only been so well received, but is also thriving with the support we have from local services. Knowing that it’s expanding to other parts of Texas, but now to another state, really excites me,” said Dr. Heather Twedell.

Aubrey L. Morgan