Our First Alarm Wellness Team

Our emergency worker support team is the best in the business of first responder behavioral health.

 

Professionally, we come from a variety of backgrounds so that we can meet your department’s needs in the most efficient and effective way possible. 

We “get” your challenges and we respect your culture. Every single member of our team has been in the trenches with you in one way or another. Our clients know we understand them and they trust us. 

Or, in the words of one of our clients, “They know their shit and they do no harm.”

Tina Casola, LMFT

Founder and President

Almost a decade ago, “I was ‘hijacked’ from my work at the V.A.

At that time very little was being talked about let alone being done in fire service world in regards to mental wellness. There were no articles, conferences and a peer team was as rare as a unicorn!

A friend in the fire department came to me, concerned about coworkers. Having listened to me prattle on at barbeques and social events about my work with PTS,  he recognized that they had a gap.

We talked about the lack of understanding and support that first responders were getting.  No one quite knew what needed to be done — just that a crisis was developing.

From then on, I knew where my place was. Even when I’ve tried to quit, the universe has been quick to remind me this is my place.”

“In the beginning, my job was to convince agencies that behavioral health support was even necessary. Now the question is ‘how do we deliver these services the best way possible?”

“I am so proud of the team we’ve put together and the alliances we’ve made with other purposeful organizations and people who work with similar passion towards the same goal- doing right by others. It’s not a money thing, it’s a people thing.”

Tina works directly with agencies, individuals and family members; provides structured training, and speaks at conferences — always with the goal of keeping the discussion going.

Sapna Lee, LMFT

Sapna has been a marriage and family therapist for twenty years, but what she loves about working with emergency workers is how genuine they are. 

First responders take their role in serving the community seriously. They understand their lives are going to be full of “lower-case trauma” (i.e. the daily grind), and occasionally “upper-case  Trauma” (the hard core situations). “Emergency workers need you to be genuine and they need to feel you care about them. If they think you’re being genuine with them and you really care, they’ll connect.

“The real therapy takes place at the kitchen table — with each other. That’s why shaping peer support is crucial.” 

Sapna practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and EMDR — an innovative method that’s proven to help the brain process and store trauma. 

Keynan Hobbs, PMHCNS-BC

Keynan is a Board-Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist who has been counseling full-time for close to a decade. His focus is treating PTSD in first responders and military/veterans.

“I’m a combat veteran myself, and understanding the nuances of military/veteran culture is a big part of what I bring…first responder culture is VERY similar, not just that many people work in the field after military service, but the mindset, traditions, and professional identity is much the same.

“Sometimes people say ‘this work is hard, but it isn’t combat…’ but trust me, it’s more the same than different, and the effects are identical.”

Clarissa Laughlin, LCSW

Before Clarissa began studying to become a therapist, she was a full-time horse trainer. She’s worked with horses before she was twelve years old. 

Clarissa’s specialty is working with kids 18 and under and working with families who want to improve their interactions. This includes offering parenting classes.

When possible, Clarissa combines counseling and horses through a craft known as equine therapy. 

“Most kids don’t want to stare at someone in an office,” Clarissa states. “But put them in a stable and around animals and they open up.  It’s especially useful for kids with ADHD. They learn to focus and manage their symptoms.”

Clarissa enjoys working with First Alarm Wellness because Tina has been a force in normalizing emergency worker’s experiences and lowering the stigma around the necessity of processing those experiences. 

Clarissa specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), along with Psychodynamic methods to help shape their thinking and emotions to increase their ability to thrive.

Angelica Tesoriero ALPC with First Alarm Wellness

Angelica Tesoriero, ALPC

Angelica grew up with strong ties to the FDNY. Her father is a firefighter and her mom served as an assistant commissioner of the Family Assistance Unit that was started after 9/11. 

Before coming to the West Coast, Angelica worked with the New York City Fire Department specializing in substance abuse counseling and leading group therapy programs for relapse prevention and anger management. She also coordinated education and family day programs. 

“Emergency workers are 28% more likely to develop a substance use disorder. What they are exposed to on a daily basis impacts them and trickles down to their homes.”  

Angelica sets up similar programs for our contracted departments and organizations. She works with each department to determine their needs and the best way to get these programs established.

Ericka Paez ACSW with First Alarm Wellness

Ericka Paez, MSW ACSW

After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Ericka served as a mental health specialist in the Army’s 82nd Airborne  Division Mental Health Clinic.

Using the GI Bill, Ericka got her Master of Social Work and used her experience to serve veterans, first as lead navigator with Courage to Call and then with a workforce development grant at California State University, San Marcos.

Besides working on her LCSW, Ericka is certified as a Brain Health Coach with Amen Clinics and she’s working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Balancing her intellectual and her spiritual sides, Ericka is also a yoga instructor and is finishing her meditation certification with Integrative Restoration Institute.

Ericka’s ‘whole person’ approach to counseling is driven by her desire to treat each client as an individual, including exploring the link between physical and mental health. Ericka’s fresh approach to wellness can include supplements to boost physical health and help clients break through what’s going on in their lives.  

Jackie Ketch, Workers Compensation Advocate

Jackie is a key part of our wrap-around concierge approach. We don’t leave our clients hanging.

Before coming to First Alarm Wellness, Jackie brings her vast knowledge of the Workers Compensation Program so that she can help your workers navigate the system. If she doesn’t have the answers, she knows where to find them, and she’ll walk with you through the entire process.

“I love working with First Alarm Wellness because we’re passionate about helping to make things better for people.”

Julie Schrope, Business Manager

Call for backup.

Your number one priority is the safety of your team, during and after each incident.

Find out what we can do for your department to make sure your emergency and disaster workers have the support they need.

Contact Us