The road to NYC: Dan’s story

When the opportunity arose for First Responders to run the New York Marathon with Team Fortem, 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 to the United States later this year. 

Last month, he got the call to say that he would be on the plane with them, and running the 42km on November 6. 

 

“Every day I’ve always done some type of physical activity, whether it be structured sport or my own training,” said Wicks. 
“That includes running – I was quite a handy track at various levels athlete growing up. 
“I’ve taken part in various adventure races and done a few runs so I have always had that base level of fitness. 
“I have changed my training to be able to tackle the 42kms, so far it is going well and I am enjoying the challenge.” 

 

Wicks has 21 years of experience as a Police Officer, and through those years has had the mental wellbeing of himself and his colleagues front of mind because of a tragic incident early in his career. 

 

“I was a relatively junior officer, I was only a few years into my policing career when one ordinary morning not long after commencing work an

unfortunate incident defined the type of police officer I wanted to become,” said Wicks. 

“It was March 2003 when a colleague took their own life at the police station. 

“It had a profound effect on all of the people working that day in a relatively small, regional police station.

“From that point in time it was engrained in me that we have an obligation to look out for our colleagues and… all first responders”

 

Two decades from that day, Dan now finds himself in a leadership position focusing on culture where he understands the importance of fitness and keeping an active lifestyle and how that links to mental wellbeing. 

He is adamant that the reason he has been able to continue in his role as a dedicated police officer is due to the physical and mental benefits resulting from keeping fit, healthy, and active in sports.  

 

It can be a tough job at times, so I actively encourage and engage with all my colleagues to make positive lifestyle changes including being active in sports and physical events, especially focusing on those who are going through difficult periods,” said Wicks 
It is great that we have an organisation like Fortem that is prioritising wellbeing, breaking stigma, starting conversations about mental fitness, preventing and treating the deep impacts of first responder work and seeking or allowing support from loved ones and the community.   
 

I hope to use the opportunity that Fortem has given me to help promote mental fitness and wellbeing support to the First Responder community both in Queensland, and across the country.