ABOUT US

Meet Our Team of Instructors

Susan Farren

Founder/Executive Director

Retired Paramedic

Susan Farren is the founder of First Responders Resiliency Inc. A graduate of the Stanford paramedic program, Susan has served her entire career in the industry of pre-hospital care. Serving in both the private and public sectors as a paramedic, supervisor, operations manager, peer counselor, clinical manager, EMS educator and consultant throughout the greater Bay Area.

After being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016, Susan had to come to grips with the physical, emotional and mental impact the career had taken on her – and the Resiliency Training Program was born.

After her treatment and recovery, Susan dove into the research and subsequent data discovered involving the mental and physical impacts the industry had taken on her. Armed with that knowledge she pulled together a team of experts from every division of the industry who are working as a team to change the lives of First Responders.

A regularly sought after inspirational speaker and the published author of The Fireman’s Wife, A Memoir. Her second book, Firestorm, A Survivor’s Story is due for release in 2019

Ron Shull

Director of Operations

Retired Fire Engineer

Ron Shull has served 31 years with the Santa Rosa Fire Dept., retiring in 2014 from his position as a fire engineer from the department’s busiest station, Station 1. Shull additionally served on the department’s Union Executive Board as well as pioneered their wellness and fitness program. In 2012, he was voted by his peers as Firefighter of the Year.

Gary McCalla

Resiliency Instructor

Emergency Medicine Specialist

Dr. Gary McCalla has more than 30 years of experience as a residency-trained, board-certified Emergency Medical Specialist. During his time serving as an ER Physician at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, McCalla was trained as the Medical Director for both REACH Helicopters and American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR) in Santa Rosa, CA. Along with his experience in emergency medicine, he gained extensive knowledge in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. As proven, Gary shows himself to be an incredible contribution to the evolution of the mental well-being of health care providers.

Erik Baarts

Resiliency Instructor

Retired Police Officer

Erik Baarts served 22 years with three separate law enforcement agencies. He retired in 2019 from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Baarts has a BS degree in Criminal Justice Management from the Union Institute and University. He additionally graduated from the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute with 20 years of instructor experience teaching P.O.S.T. approved courses, along with being an adjunct instructor at Mendocino Community College. Baarts has been provided with various experiences working with first responders coping with Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI) through volunteer work and by being a member of his department’s peer support team.

Tod Ceruti

Resiliency Instructor

Retired U.S. Navy

Tod Ceruti is a military veteran, certified Fire Flex, Veteran Warrior, and Prison Instructor who teaches a unique form of physical resilience to civilians and prisoners alike. Ceruti’s experience as a military vet, combined with his own incredible journey into physical wellness, is a life-altering benefit to anyone who learns from him.

Cathy Wayne

Resiliency Instructor

Retired Captain/Field Commander

Cathy Wayne began her career as a First Responder in 1980, working her way up from being an EMT to Paramedic with Acme Western Ambulance in Oakland, CA. Wayne then joined the California Highway Patrol in 1984 where she spent the next 27+ years working in various assignments throughout the Bay Area. She has worked in Road Patrol, Commercial Operations, K-9 Narcotics Interdiction, and Dispatch Communications in Oakland, Vallejo, Martinez, Dublin, Sunol and San Jose, CA. Wayne was eventually promoted to several ranks over the years and ended her successful career as a Captain/Field Commander of the San Jose Area in 2011.

Dr. Jen Riegle

Resiliency Instructor

Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Jen Riegle is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, with a degree from Bastyr University, one of the leading institutions in natural medical care and research. Riegle carries advanced certifications and training in environmental medicine, women’s health, infertility, biofeedback, and traditional medicine practices. She combines her knowledge and skills as a diagnostician in the western and traditional medicine worlds with a deep compassion and intuition, in order to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing for her patients. Dr. Riegle utilizes conventional treatment methods, as well as healing modalities such as herbal medicine, functional and physical medicines.

Meet Our Family Services Team

The First Responders Resiliency, Inc. Family Services component provides the families of first responders a look into the psychological, neurological, physical, emotional, and relational changes that take place in a first responder as a result of their repeated traumatic exposure and stress. Until now, there has been little to no training for the families on these issues or what they can do to work together. This program creates an environment that allows for healing, repair, growth, and happiness, not only for first responders, but for those who love and care for them.

Crystal Shull

Director of Family Services

Crystal Shull is the wife of retired firefighter/engineer, Ron Shull for First Responders Resiliency, Inc. After attending a First Responders Resiliency, Inc. conference, she was compelled to get involved and now heads up the Family Services Program. The mother of 3 grown sons, one of which is now a firefighter/paramedic, Crystal brings compassion, experience and information to support and educate families of first responders.

Veronica Stirnus

Coordinator of Family Services

Veronica Stirnus is a Sonoma County native who is a graduate from Sonoma State University. Her husband, Gabe, is both a captain with Sonoma Valley Fire Dept, as well as a part-time paramedic on the Sheriff’s Department helicopter. Veronica balances being a busy mom of 2 young sons, with working in the spouse and family component of First Responders Resiliency, Inc., training families and loved ones how to support themselves and their loved ones.

Meet Our Advisory Board

Gina R. Poe, Ph.D.

Research

Dr. Gina Poe is a professor, scientist, and program director at the University of California, Los Angeles within the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology.
Dr. Poe researches the role of sleep in consolidating learning and erasing extraneous information from neural networks. Her lab studies memory integration in adaptive and maladaptive sleep which includes Depression and PTSD. This research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Along with being a Co-Director of COMPASS Life Sciences, Dr. Poe is a Co-Director of MARC U*STAR (Maximizing Access to Research Careers /Under, and a Director of Diversity in Outreach and Education) for the BRI-SURE (Brain Research Institute Summer Undergraduate Research) Program. She additionally directs two national programs for under-represented neuroscience graduate students and postdoctoral trainees.

The Poe Laboratory this needs to be linked in the name NOT shown as a separate link on the side} studies the unique mechanisms during sleep to consolidate memories and update the knowledge stored. This research applies to learning and to mental health disorders like PTSD. The Poe Lab is funded by grants from the NIH. You can find Dr. Poe on Google Scholar and ResearchGate.

Her specialties lay in education, sleep, PTSD, memory, Post-Anesthesia Cognitive Function, Neuroscience, science & research, and grants.

Dr. Susanne Montgomery

Research

Dr. Susanne Montgomery joined Loma Linda University in 1995. After teaching in the School of Public Health (LLU-SPH) for 16 years, she joined the LLU School of Behavioral Health (LLU SBH) in 2011. She is currently the Associate Dean for Research in LLU SBH. Additionally, she is a Professor of Social Policy and Social Research, Public Health, and Preventive Medicine. Lastly, she has established herself as the Head of the LLU SBH Division of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Director of Research of the LLU Behavioral Health Institute.

Dr. Montgomery holds a master’s degree in Nutritional Science and a MPH and PhD for from the University of Michigan. She identifies as a Social & Behavioral Epidemiologist where she has been committed to Translational Health Disparities Research throughout her career. She also leads the Translational Research Team as Director of the Community Outreach and Partnership Core for the Center for Health Disparities Research and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Montgomery has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles concerning cancer prevention, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and alcohol and tobacco use. Montgomery regularly serves as a reviewer of several national peer-review journals. After many years being on several study sections of National Institutes of Health (NIH) she mainly serves as an invited reviewer on special NIH, CDC, and DHHS Health Disparities Initiatives. She has consulted with the CDC, the State of California, and numerous private foundations on evaluation issues. Moreover, she has conducted trainings and workshops, in the U.S. and abroad, on issues of evaluation/research capacity building and diversity in the United States and abroad. She advocates for translating and applying research findings within LLUH and more broadly at the community level, and participates as a member of several area community coalitions, local, national and international planning groups, and advisory boards using her expertise and access to research data to enhance planning processes.

She has taught courses in evaluation research, qualitative and quantitative research methods, special topics courses on Emerging Health Issues, and lectures expensively on health disparities both within LLUH, local universities, and at local community events. At this point in her career, Dr. Montgomery works mainly as a mentor to doctoral students and to LLU faculty across the schools to develop trans-disciplinary translational research.

Dr. Tori Van Dyk

Research

Dr. Van Dyk obtained her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She completed specialized clinical and research training in sleep, along with pediatric health psychology during internship and fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Loma Linda University where she provides mentorship and supervision to clinical psychology graduate students; teaching courses in health psychology to conduct sleep research.

Dr. Van Dyk’s research is focused on Modifiable Health Behaviors with a specific emphasis on Sleep. She is interested in these behaviors as targets for health promotion and intervention, particularly focused on the ways in which sleep impacts mood, behavior, and physical functionality. She is interested in the intersection between mental and physical health with how health behaviors and outcomes impact emotional and behavioral function. Dr. Van Dyk investigates these relationships using observational, longitudinal, and experimental methods.

Dr. John Freedman

Research

Dr. John Freedman is board-certified in Anesthesiology and Internal Medicine where he contributed his career to the front lines in multiple acute care settings for over 30 years. Freedman served as Chief of Anesthesiology at Santa Rosa Kaiser Permanente for 25 years before retiring in 2014. Over the years he has learned invaluable lessons in resilience through helping physicians, nurses, technicians – and himself – in order to process and prevail over the daunting challenges of acute care in clinical practices. Dr. Freedman is a dedicated educator and highly-experienced lecturer.

Garry Hare, Ph.D.

Advisory Board

Dr. Garry Hare focuses on the junction where Cognitive Science, Information Design and Immersive Technologies impact the visualization of complex data. He advises selected companies, foundations, and public agencies on strategy and the creative use and impact of immersive media, mobile augmented reality, and the disruptive impact of real time media on social problems. Hare’s current focus is on media strategy, innovation and design, and the rapid prototyping of immersive solutions to complex problems. Today, this focus is aimed at both virtual health care and media designed to visualize the impacts of climate change. Recently he engaged the use of immersive media in counter terrorism in collaboration with the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with coordination by the Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment (SMA) office in the Joint Staff, assessing options in the cognitive space to disrupt and counter ISIL operational capabilities and train the Psychological Operations (PO) Operators. He continues to be active in the Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment (JCOIE).

Donn Gaede, Ph.D.

Advisory Board

Donn Gaede, DrPH, is a retired professor of public health at Loma Linda University, as well as a practitioner both in the U.S. and internationally. He worked for the last 20+ years internationally with mission health care systems and community health. His interest and involvement with PTSD and trauma became more focused while working in Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola epidemic when he was involved with both the community members, as well as the health providers as they coped with the trauma of both living through the epidemic while providing professional care during the crisis. He initiated the implementation of a very successful community resiliency program by LLU to deal with PTSD which continues to operate today. He feels privileged to be able to continue to work, in order to strengthen resiliency for first responders and family members through the work of First Responders Resiliency, Inc.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Susan Farren

Board of Director

Susan Farren is the founder of First Responders Resiliency Inc. A graduate of the Stanford Paramedic Program, Susan has served her entire career in the industry of pre-hospital care. Serving in both the private and public sectors as a paramedic, supervisor, peer counselor, clinical manager, EMS educator, and consultant throughout the greater Bay Area.

After being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016, Susan had to come to grips with the physical, emotional and mental impact the career had taken on her – and the Resiliency Training Program was born. Following her treatment and recovery, Susan dove into the research and subsequent data discovered involving the mental and physical impacts the industry had taken on her. Armed with that knowledge she pulled together a team of experts from every division of the industry who are working as a team to change the lives of First Responders.

A regularly sought after inspirational speaker and the published author of The Fireman’s Wife, A Memoir. Her second and third books, Firestorm, A Survivor’s Story and Responder Resiliency An Owner’s Manual are due for release in Summer of 2020.

Cathy Wayne

Board of Director

Cathy Wayne began her career as a First Responder in 1980, working her way up from being an EMT to Paramedic with Acme Western Ambulance in Oakland, CA. Wayne then joined the California Highway Patrol in 1984 where she spent the next 27+ years working in various assignments throughout the Bay Area. She has worked in Road Patrol, Commercial Operations, K-9 Narcotics Interdiction, and Dispatch Communications in Oakland, Vallejo, Martinez, Dublin, Sunol and San Jose, CA. Wayne was eventually promoted to several ranks over the years and ended her successful career as a Captain/Field Commander of the San Jose Area in 2011.

Margaret Bradly Foley

Board of Director

Margaret Bradly Foley has over 18 years of experience spending her career as a marketing communication professional, with a strong track record of contributions in advertising, consumer marketing, and brand management within the consumer packaged goods, retail, and service industries. Having developed integrated communications programs for new and existing brands while in the advertising industry for worldwide agencies Darcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Foote Cone & Belding in San Francisco, Margaret brings innovation and passion to ensure her clients are well represented among consumers. Margaret went on to lead the marketing communications and public relations efforts on the client-side for 15 of those years while at Qantas Airways, Boston Market, and Safeway Inc. consumer brands division.

Her core qualifications include: branding and positioning, developing consumer communications platforms, developing and launching new brands such as O Organics, public relations strategies, leading test initiatives, and post-promotion analysis.

Margaret has a passion for food and wine and was actively involved with the International Association of Culinary Professionals where she served on the board as both a director and the board chair. Prior to serving on the board, she led the Corporate Relations and Sponsorship Development committee for the association. She and her husband, Jim, live in Sonoma County wine country where they produce olive oil and grow grapes for their boutique winery, Petrichor, featuring Rhône style wines.

James T. Henley D.D.S.

Board of Director