Local program helps first responders recover from trauma, improve well-being

Local News

ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — An Evergreen native created a program targeted at helping first responders recover from traumatic, busy shifts in order to sleep.

FOX31 learned about the program this weekend as it was used to help Arvada firefighters and first responders who rushed to the scene of an active shooting that killed Officer Gordon Beesley and good Samaritan Johnny Hurley.

In the last two weeks, many community members have expressed their gratitude for first responders: some leaving notes, others leaving flowers in Olde Town Arvada. The Toomey’s decided to share their guided meditation practice, hoping to help provide some relief.

Jacqueline Toomey created the first responder sleep recovery practice. She took the guided meditation known as yoga nindra and tailored it to first responders through specific stretching and breaking work that benefits their strenuous work shifts.

“It was an honor to guide them through this practice that is really restorative and helpful for recovery, not only physically, but mentally from such an intense loss,” Toomey said. 

Toomey says she’s guided over 2,000 first responders in the last three years. The idea for this firefighter and police targeted practice came to her when she started dating her now husband Sean who is a Denver firefighter.

“When Jacqueline and I met, I was on one of the busier engine companies in Denver,” Sean said. “We were running between 4,500 and 5,000 calls a year and a lot of those calls came at night.”

Sean says he took on the same mentality many of his brothers and sisters in the firefighting community share. 

“We really subscribe to the ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead mentality,’” Sean said. “There’s a lot of pride around our work ethic and our availability to the public that comes with our occupation, so sleep is something we’re readily willing to sacrifice to perform our jobs and then take care of our obligations at home.”

After several months of utilizing the First Responder Sleep Recover practice, Sean said he saw a difference and felt a need to spread this tool to his colleagues. 

“The real surprise came to me after doing this for several months and going into my annual physical,” Sean said. “The results in my physical were astonishing. I had increased testosterone, lower blood pressure, lower resting heart rate. All around my signs improved without a major life change aside from this.”

The Toomey’s are in the process of applying to expand and become a nonprofit, hoping to team up with other holistic providers in the future.

Here’s a link to their program – https://www.firstrespondersleeprecovery.com/sleep-loss-is-killing-firefighters

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