Calm Minds Save Lives: NeurOptimal® and First Responders

fire fighters

Our First Responders are all heroes and deserve to have access to the most effective wellness solutions available today. We need to show these incredibly special people how much we appreciate them, these heroes who care for us every day. They sacrifice so much for us. They keep our communities safe and save lives, sometimes at the expense of their own mental health.

This is the story of how a group of 21 paramedics, firefighters (2 retired), police and one ICU nurse, all from Lambton County, Ontario, experienced benefits beyond their expectations after participating in a project that ran 20 NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Sessions a piece. Out of this group, only one had even heard of neurofeedback before the project.

This group was amazingly dedicated, rarely skipping a Session in spite of busy schedules. They did it on their own time. They put in the effort. They showed up, through winter storms and sometimes driving from over an hour away. Some came exhausted after a long shift and looked forward to a nap during their Session, calling the process their brain spa. This group was nothing short of a joy to work with. They were always appreciative of the little things, the heated blanket, the bottled water, the time to relax…. They said their brains seemed to be saying “Thank you!” after each Session. One of the more powerful comments I recall hearing was “I feel happy”, expressed by a paramedic after his first Session. He said he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt happy. “I’m enjoying life again” was another comment that was especially poignant. Many were surprised at how much easier a difficult work call had been, or how past triggers were just that…in the past. Several reported that they were no longer quick to anger, were sleeping better and felt calmer and more focused. They all completed self-assessments for anxiety and PTSD at the beginning and at the end of the project which had surprisingly positive results. It was always made clear that NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback was not a treatment or a therapy for any condition, simply brain training that could result in very positive outcomes.

I know this experience has taught me that there’s so much more work that remains to be done with First Responders and Neurofeedback. Together with five paramedics as a steering committee, we’ve started a new initiative, “Calm Minds Save Lives” that will benefit First Responders and their families through loaning machines that can be used at home. We are currently in the process of fundraising so one or more machines can be bought and made available to take home on an ongoing basis. We will continue to gather data on the outcomes and we encourage any group interested in collaborating to get in touch. Our goal is to see more uptake locally and globally, resulting in more First Responders getting access to a wellness solution that is long overdue.

One important thing I was reminded of during this project was that outward appearances are not necessarily indicative of what’s going on inside. We need to make it easier for First Responders to reach out, to know they’re not alone. To know that there are natural approaches like NeurOptimal® that can be very powerful, especially if someone is struggling. Many of the group that finished their 20 Sessions wrote testimonials urging their peers to try it, saying there’s nothing to lose and possibly much to gain from doing neurofeedback. They encouraged their peers to seek it out and at least be open and see where it may lead them.

A memorable moment after project ended was when a young paramedic walked into my office and announced that she was there for prevention. I wanted to hug her. “In my profession as a paramedic”, said Sarah Goodman of Lambton EMS, “we all need to pay more attention to our mental well-being. When I heard about neurofeedback, it seemed like a smart thing to do for prevention.” Thank you for that, Sarah. It doesn’t have to be something that’s done after experiencing a series of traumatic incidents or a rough patch. This is something that could be included in First Responders curriculum or as part of the training for new recruits.

My lasting impression is that First Responders are wired differently. I mean that in a good way. On a daily basis they experience things that the average person can only imagine. They run into burning buildings while everyone else is running out. Having been a NeurOptimal® practitioner for 12 years now, I have never worked with a group that responded so quickly and powerfully to Sessions. Their brains seemed to love neurofeedback. It would be wonderful if everyone who knows a First Responder or two were to forward this blog to them or at least make them aware of an option that does not seem to be well known in the First Responder world. Simply put, NeurOptimal® can be one more tool on their toolbelt of effective mental wellness solutions.

Post Contributor

Susan Gillies

Good Vibrations Neurofeedback

79 King Street, Thedford, Ontario, Canada N0M 2N0

(519) 639-8453

[email protected]

Comment (1)

  • Melissa Sorrells

    Bravo Bravo Bravo Susan! This is simply wonderful! Here in Boulder, Colorado I have also had great results with a couple of First Responders….one of whom is in a leadership position and is very interested in trying a similar program as yours with his co-workers. 💗💗💗
    Blessings to You!
    Missy Sorrells

    May 7, 2024 at 6:17 pm

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