Stories from our first responder community
Fortem Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that supports the mental fitness and wellbeing of first responder families. Every day, more than 300,000 first responders keep our communities safe. They are backed up by their families: partners, children and parents. All of them hold vital and challenging roles. We help them to be well, and stay well, through mental fitness, support services and wellbeing activities. These are their stories.
As well as the difficulties that come with a decade-long career as a police officer, Vanessa also witnessed the death of her training partner while on a ride in 2010. She describes running and triathlons as her saving grace, ever since she discovered the benefits of exercise for mental health.
When the opportunity arose for first responders to run the New York Marathon, Queensland Police Officer Dan Wicks knew he wanted to be part of it. He had been selected as a reserve runner, in case one of the original four were not able to make it. Last month, he got the call to say that he would be on the plane with them.
Losing someone you care about looks different for everyone. As clinicians, we often witness people in their journey of loss and traumatic experiences. However, we are not always the experts. You as the first responder community are, regrettably, and too often, the experts on what it feels like to live with the loss of a colleague to suicide.
Susan Forte has always been a runner. It is something she has done since her early days of primary school. As a high schooler, she represented Queensland in track running and cross country at the Australian titles numerous times. In her own words: Running is her life.
At a launch today, Fortem Australia Managing Director and Co-Founder John Bale confirmed the ‘National Health and Wellbeing program’ will be rolled out across Australia and reiterated the importance of supporting first responders and their families throughout the country.
Since being selected for Team Fortem, Emma has experienced how supportive the first responder community has been. “First responders are very private people – you don’t share a lot with your world, and you don’t talk about it, you just keep it inside. This is the first time I have really been connected to other services.”
Fortem Australia has reiterated the importance of evidence-based mental fitness and wellbeing support for the first responder community, in the wake of the release of the interim report from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
Fortem Australia is calling up two reserve first responders, to run with Team Fortem later this year in the New York Marathon.
Fortem Australia is calling for more research to be done into the spillover effect of PTSD on partners and families of Australian first responders.
Fortem Australia is proud to announce it has selected four first responders to represent Australia in the New York Marathon on Sunday, 6 November 2022.
Fortem Australia is urging first responders and their families to heed even the smallest signs of the personal impacts of attending a disaster – even if it’s years after the actual event.