Veteran paramedic, cancer survivor advocates for responder health

Susan Farren is on a mission to teach responders how to be healthy by coaching through First Responder Resiliency Inc.

By EMS1 Staff

PETALUMA, Calif. — A veteran paramedic who survived cancer is now caring for other responders by teaching them how to be healthy with her new resiliency center.

The Argus Courier reported that 33-year paramedic veteran Susan Farren learned she had a tumor on her kidney in 2016, and realized she needed to make a change, both physically and mentally.

“You’re doing the opposite of what your body tells you to do – instinctively you’d cry when you see a horrifying event, but we train ourselves to suppress,” she said. “We train to be firefighters, we train to be paramedics, we train to be police officers, but no one trains us how to handle all this emotion.”

Farren, who is now in remission, decided to switch gears and use what she learned about self-care during her battle with cancer to teach first responders how to be healthy with her unique resiliency program.

Farren created First Responder Resiliency Inc., and will start her mission off with a nonprofit conference that will host discussions about the science behind coping with PTSD and the promotion of overall wellness.

“I hope they walk out of the conference saying ‘oh my god, I had no idea I could save myself and not just others,’” Farren said.

The goal is to build a resiliency center in the next year that will be staffed only by retired first responders who would help their fellow emergency professionals with counseling, physical fitness and mindfulness training.

“It’s all positive – it’s filling their minds and hearts with things that are supportive to their systems to allow them to reintegrate home into their families with some wellness intact so they’re not just coming in off a 48-hour shift completely burned out and trying to walk in the door and become a husband and a father or a mother and a wife or a child to an elderly parent,” Farren said.

The conference will take place June 29 to July 1 in Sonoma.

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