MARCH 27-28, 2023





Register for this wellness conference equipping first responders with education, tangible tools, and connections to implement stronger wellness messages and programs personally and in their agencies. The Frontline Convention agenda includes keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities with fellow first responders and a resource network of select providers. Topics to be covered include but are not limited to resilience development, wellness (physical, emotional, mental, financial, relational, and more), peer support, treatment, and department programming and culture.

If you have questions related to Frontline Convention, please contact Program Manager Kaira Zaremba (




Chris Fields is a former member of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. Chris joined the fire department July 12, 1985, was promoted through the ranks and retired as a Major on March 1, 2017, serving the citizens of Oklahoma City for 31 yrs and 7 months. Chris was captured in a photo that became an iconic symbol of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 when he was cradling the body of 1yr old Baylee Almon. Chris is now dedicating his life and travels to speak to other first responders. He discusses the brutal realities of a life spent responding to citizens in their darkest hours, routinely placing others before himself and representing the greater good in all of us. Chris tells the story of his life, his 31 years of public service, and how that day in 1995 all combined to take a toll on his life and his family. He suffered in silence for many years.


Raul Rivas was sworn into the Orlando Police Department in 1992. He was first assigned to midnight patrol. Then he had stints on the bicycle squad and gang unit, before moving on to a multi-agency undercover drug task force named the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI). Raul Rivas served 18 years with the SWAT team and served as an Assistant Team Leader. Raul was one of the SWAT team members involved during the “Pulse Night Club” shooting in Orlando, Florida. Raul received an Award of Valor for his actions and involvement in the Pulse Incident. Raul is retired from the Orlando Police department.


Officer Wellness: Surviving and Thriving On and Off the Job

Presenter: Nick Greco

Description: We will identify and discuss the fallout of the 24/7 mindset of today’s police officer. As cumulative stress is a prominent feature in one’s law enforcement career, we will look at the prevalence, impact, and why this should be an area of concern for every police department. We will examine the stress factors, both professionally and personally, which put an officer at risk for PTSD and recognize compassion fatigue, burnout, vicarious trauma, and secondary trauma. We will look at ways that you can take control of your life and career and help others. Finally, we’ll identify and implement policies and procedures in your department to make a positive difference in the lives of your officers.

First Responder Suicide and Accidental Overdose Deaths: A Snapshot of Substance Use and Abuse

Presenter: Olivia Johnson

Description: Substance abuse and addiction issues affect millions of Americans every year, and our first responder populations are not exempt. Deaths by suicide and accidental overdose bring this sad reality to the forefront. First responders tend to hide the hurt and pain which makes it challenging to know if and when they are struggling mentally. This session will review first responder cases related to substance use, accidental overdoses, and suicide.

Sometimes the Best Help has Four Paws and Fur. How do Therapy K9’s Help Within and Outside the Police Department?

Presenters: Meg Krase, Teresa Drewes, Angela Baiocchi, Rich Miller

Description: Three Illinois departments (Carpentersville, Northbrook, and Orland Park) will highlight how they started their Therapy K9 program, and how this benefits the department. Come meet the stars of the show, Chloe, Leo, and Walter and hear about the work they do inside and outside the Department.

Cultural Competency in the Fire Service

Presenters: Dr. Kristy McKiness & Ryan Lettieri

Description: This presentation emphasizes the cultural differences between civilian and first responder culture. Some of the important cultural elements of understanding first responder culture will include shift work, transition to/from work, and family life. Importance of understanding how first responders are impacted by the job physically, emotionally, spiritually, and within their relationships will be covered in depth.

Introduction to First Responder Resiliency Development

Presenter: Introduction to First Responder Resiliency Development

Description: The Illinois Fire Service Institute offers a 4-hour Resiliency Development for First Responder Course to local first responders. This presentation will cover a few key highlights of this essential training with the hope that students that engage in the training will then encourage the leaders of their organization to bring this no-cost training to their organization.

Leadership’s Impact on the Mental Health Message

Presenter: JP Moore

Description: As a leader you have great influence over others. With this incrediable gift of leadership, you must be aware of how your words and actions impact the message of mental health and resiliency with the first responders you are fortunate to lead. This presentation will guide you through a self assessment of your leadership’s impact on the mental health message in your organization.

First Responder Health, Wellness and Fitness

Presenter: Steve Petrilli

Description: This workshop will provide fact-based information and debunk the numerous nutrition, health and wellness “fads” that exist. Steve will empower attendees with science-based information to make positive changes to their nutrition, fitness, and overall health. Attendees will leave this training session with the knowledge and resources to have better informed conversations with their personal physicians and ultimately become the best advocates for their own health optimization.

How Money Works

Presenter: Kim Poulos

Description: Kim will share during this workshop several ideas and strategies on budgeting, getting out of debt, insurance needs and investment strategies specifically geared towards first responders.

Spiritual Fortitude: A Key Dimension to First Responder Resiliency

Presenter: Tammy Roach

Description: Have you found yourelf asking “why” after a traumatic incident or death event? Are you tired, frustrated, or perhaps angry by what you have experienced on the job? Understanding that spiritual fortitude is essential for 1st Responders who regularly face trauma, death, and moral injury throughout their careers, this is a down and dirty discussion about spirituality and how it relates to your career. In this course Tammy will describe the characteristics of spiritual fortitude, help you uncover your level of spiritual health, suggest practices to strengthen your spiritual foundation, and offer practical steps to help you live a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

Breaking the Barriers: Changing the Way we Support the Physical and Mental Health of First Responders

Presenter: Ron Rufo

Description: This workshop will examine what first responders deal with in their job, and what they can do to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually throughout their career. Ron will cover trauma, PTSI, first responder suicide, and the stigma of mental health treatment.

Sleep: The Untapped Superpower (and the Evil Forces that Fight Against it)

Presenter: Annette Zapp

Description: The typical firefighter grinds through their career, sleeping very little on duty and inadequately balancing sleep debt off duty. They are working toward a sleep deprivation badge of honor which doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” can be an expedited self-fulfilling prophecy. Sleep deprivation is an independent risk factor for cancer,  cardiometabolic disease, industrial accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and PTSD. This session will outline public servants’ mental and physical challenges due to acute and chronic sleep deprivation and detail steps to improve and accumulate restorative sleep. Sleep is the firefighter’s best health and wellness ally.



Sponsorship opportunities to support our convention are available. Please contact Kelsey Tomko at for further information.



Simplify your convention experience by taking advantage of the 100 Club of Illinois room block at $120/night (Plus $14.95 USD resort charge per night, plus tax) for a single king size room.

The deadline to book your room with this discounted rate is February 24, 2023.

The resort and conference center is surrounded by a serene 150-acre estate that includes the Audubon-certified 18-hole Willow Crest Golf Club, just 25 minutes from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. They have a lakefront outdoor pool, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, a spa, two golf simulators, and two restaurants.



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