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.

The road to NYC: Vanessa’s story

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.

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The road to NYC: Dan’s story

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.

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The road to NYC: Susan’s story

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.

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The road to NYC: Emma’s story

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.”

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The road to NYC: Craig’s story

“I look back now and even though I didn’t think I needed any mental health support, doing that stuff with Fortem and keeping connected with other people and my family helped me even if I didn’t realise it was helping at the time.”

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