21 July 2023

Where are they now? Meet former first responder Bill 

Bill started his career at the early age of 18, straight out of school and into the police force. He spent the next 27 years building his career from Constable to Senior Sergeant. Bill eventually left to pursue a career which aligned more with his lifestyle, allowing him to spend more time with his family and experience different aspects of life.  

“I applied for a Manager of Training within the Justice Department. I was incredibly lucky to be offered a position so swiftly; I then had to make that hard decision about leaving my role as a police officer. It was a tough transition out, especially after the length of time I had been in law enforcement.” 

Bill experienced a situation within his role that brought up some unresolved trauma from his time in the police force. Through this experience, he was able to take the first steps to seeking treatment and rebuilding his future with help from Fortem’s Career Management Program.  

“The problem for police is they do not get the opportunity to process those traumatic events correctly. They deal with it and then they just move on to the next one and they never really get to unpack it.” 

“It took a lot of courage, but I went, and I got treatment. And at that point in time, I linked in with Fortem to help me discover what is next for me in my career. They supported me because I was a first responder for a long time. Thankfully, I qualified for assistance from Fortem. Through meeting my representative, they helped me realise that I could not work in a law enforcement environment anymore. That is where I needed Fortem’s assistance, to go look for alternate employment and help me understand what this means for me now; it was a tough time, to be honest.” 

When asked what advice he would give to other first responders, Bill said, “It is a grieving process, and they need to anticipate it takes a number of years to start to disengage from policing and from that front-line exposure. It takes time to accept that you are no longer a police officer. Your responsibilities no longer lie where they were.” 

“Fortem gave me a lot of support and helped me with my job skills, the job interview readiness and even referring me onto get my qualifications turned into RPLs. I realised that some of my service accounted for a couple of advanced diplomas, which I got recognition for; one in leadership and work health and safety.” 

Looking back, Bill can recognise how far he has come and how much stronger he is today. “I was appreciative that Fortem understood it was a recent separation from the police; I was not looking to transition out like other members. Yet I still did suffer some legacy issues from it and Fortem were excellent at that point. Things are good, I have solid employment now, am much wiser about things and I have referred many people to Fortem for their assistance.”