North Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association

Mental Fitness for First Responders

A One-Day Bootcamp

Offered in 2 different Locations

Quality Inn, Jamestown

July 19, 2023 9:00am-5:00pm- Register Here

The Public Safety Building, Dickinson

July 20, 2023 9:00am-5:00pm- Register Here

Mental fitness is a positive, proactive, and disciplined way of meeting the emotional and psychological challenges of First Responder roles AND enjoying more of the mental rewards we want from work.

These are challenging times for first responders. Staffing shortages, social ills, funding issues, increasing demands, and ugly politics are making this role more difficult. Mental fitness is about preparing ourselves to meet these challenging times. Mental fitness develops the awareness, commitment, maturity, discipline, grit, and optimism needed to meet challenges and still have a positive and satisfying experience. This one-day boot camp introduces mental fitness and plunges participants into the training, conditioning, skills, and tools needed to build mental fitness.

What we will do:

Over eight hours, we will introduce the concept of mental fitness and engage in exercises and skills that will deepen your understanding of mental fitness and give you the tools to go home and start a mental fitness routine. The session will be highly active and participatory!

Mental fitness begins with paying attention to attention. Focus becomes our reality. When the attention muscle is developed, exercised, and strong we:

  • Notice how we experience what happens to us and construct a better day;
  • Zero in on the stuff we can control and take action instead of focusing on what we can’t control and spending our energy complaining and feeling victimized;
  • Find the good even amid difficulties, frustration, suffering, and loss;
  • Clean up our thought life, armor up and down and practice mental hygiene; and
  • Meet setbacks and adversity head-on.

Over the day, we will demonstrate that mental fitness is much easier to work on and maintain when practiced with others.


Who this is for and not for:

The program is for first responders who:

  • want an active and practical approach to first responder wellbeing;
  •  have the desire to take better care of themselves and have a better experience;
  • want to help their colleagues and agencies address better mental fitness; and
  • are not afraid of growing, challenging assumptions, and changing, all while having fun.    

This boot camp IS NOT for first responders who:

  •  Are in a crisis or experiencing mental health challenges;
  • Believe this kind of programming is for the weak and fragile;
  • Think they know it all and don't want to grow;
  • are just fine with the traditional suck-it-up and grab-a-beer approach to wellbeing;
  • Wish to be entertained and not do any work; and
  • Believe being silent, burnt-out, and cynical is their right because they have “seen it all.”


John Becknell, Ph.D. 

John is a community psychologist working with first responders and first responder agencies throughout the United States promoting a holistic approach to first responder mental fitness and wellbeing. John has been involved with emergency services for more than 40 years and is interested in helping first responders cultivate a positive and fulfilling work experience.  

Lauren Armistead, MSW
Lauren is the principal of Treadway Consulting, a firm that specializes in developing mental health care programs for first responders and military veterans. Lauren has a diverse career in the field of emergency response and mental health advocacy. She has worked in various roles including Field Training Officer and Training Manager. Lauren has a master’s degree in Social Change and Innovation at the USC School of Social Work with research focused on suicidality, resiliency, and wellness in the law enforcement community. She has worked as a volunteer and assistant instructor for CopLine, a confidential crisis hotline for law enforcement officers in the United States and Canada.

Matthew Philbrick, NRP, MS, MBA

Matt provides crisis support, CISM resources, education, and outreach for the nation's largest EMS Provider. He is passionate about provider mental health and wellbeing. Matt has served the EMS industry for over 17 years, working in many roles: EMT, paramedic, flight paramedic, and Operations Manager in both rural and urban environments. 

North Dakota EMS Association

1622 East Interstate Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58503


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