Page 19 - UFRA Straight Tip Fall 2022 - Volume 23 Issue 4
P. 19

Now more than ever we are building that community within our organizations and helping to support and mentor each other. As we have started this journey, it has also become apparent that the fire service is not the only organization doing this. The law enforcement side has been leading the way in this realm for quite some time. Within my organization, there are noticeably more female police officers than before. Even on the state level, there is a non-profit organization set
up for Utah Women in Law Enforcement (UWLE) to help lead, mentor, educate, and network.
From conversations with my female officer friends, a new idea emerged. Let’s combine forces and build a community and network of female
law enforcement officers, firefighters, and military veterans to help Lift, Inspire, Focus, and Empower (LIFE) each other. This is when the Female First Responder LIFE Event came to life.
We partnered with Project Overwatch and the Utah Women in Law Enforcement non-profit organizations as well as funding from grants, community partners, local businesses, and other sponsors to provide this three-day event at the National Ability Center (NAC) in Park City and the Utah Valley University, Heber Campus. This event is the first of its kind and focuses on mental health and well-being, leadership, team building, and mentorship specifically to female first responders.
We spent time trying new activities like rock climbing and archery at the NAC. We had classroom portions focused on leadership with break-out groups to problem solve some of the issues that we are currently facing in our professions. We had a keynote speaker, retired Tempe, AZ, police officer Lindsay McCall Long and her husband, talk about their lives and experiences when she was shot three times in the line of duty. To balance the heavy and tough topics, there were classes on mental health and well-being, resilience, and yoga and a designated relaxation room that was available for anyone to enjoy whenever they needed a recharge.
In total, we had 23 police officers, 7 firefighters, and 1 military person- nel from across Utah. We aim to get even more firefighters in atten- dance at our next event in May. The LIFE Event movement is spread- ing, and we are currently working with agencies out of state to provide another event for them.
The response to this event has been humbling. To watch new relation- ships form and to see the support that they are still currently giving each other is awe inspiring. I know that for me, this came at an influential time, and the support and connection was just what I needed.
**Special note: I want to thank all of the 2022 participants, volunteers, speakers, and organizers for making this event possible. A special thanks to my friends Lt. Jalaine Hawkes with the Utah Highway Patrol and Dr. Marcy Hehnly, an associate professor from Utah Valley Uni- versity and retired Cobb County Police Officer, for letting me be a part of your vision and help with the development of this amazing project. A shout out also goes to Dr. Tia White with Providence for being there to support us all throughout the week and to help with the research in this important area.
This event is the first of its kind and focuses on mental health and well-being, leadership, team building, and mentorship specifically to female first responders.
   “It’s a great opportunity to meet others across the valley. Sharing knowledge and experience with each other in an environment that was needed, supported, and appreciated. Realizing many of us have similar challenges and ambitions as a First Responder, we created a network of support during the LIFE event that was priceless.” —Firefighter participant
“Our first LIFE retreat held so much meaning for each participant. This was not your average ‘training’ . . .
It was a safe place for women first responders that always came back to the core priorities of support, vulnerability, and growth.” —Jalaine Hawkes, Lieuten- ant, Utah Highway Patrol and event organizer
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