Bill Pretzer, M.A.
Bill is a retired 31-year veteran of the Fire Service. As a Battalion Chief with the Park Ridge Fire Department, Bill was responsible for Emergency Response, Disaster Preparedness and Health and Safety for the department. Bill has an Associates Degree in Sports Medicine, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pre-med from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Safety and Health Administration from De Paul University. Bill is also a graduate and class president of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. For the past 20 years, Bill has been the Director of Operations and Training for the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group (CHUG). Bill is also very active in community and regional disaster planning, currently participating in projects with the FEMA, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, The Regional Catastrophic Planning Team, State of Illinois, and many other communities. Bill was also the 2010 recipient of the American Red Cross Hero Award for Disaster Relief. As a result of the passing of Bill’s first son, due an undetected anomaly of the heart, Bill has also been very active as the co-founder and manager of a community wide psychological, emotional and spiritual support team for over 15 years. Bill also has extensive first-hand experience working with Police and Fire personnel with PTSD and addictions.
Bill is currently the Addiction Team Leader for the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team. Although this program is still in its early stages, there have been numerous requests for assistance over the last year or so. The goal of this program is to provide immediate assistance to individuals who may have a “problem” with alcohol, drugs or other addictions through open and honest conversation, face-to-face meetings and developing a plan of action that is best for the individual and their families.
My goal in life is to “Pay it Forward”, so this is my personal commitment to those who are suffering. For more information on how you can help, reach out to others or simply would like more information for yourself, please feel free to connect with me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to all and Peace, Bill Pretzer
My name is Andy Perry. I am a 26-year Captain with the Peoria Fire Department. Prior to this I was a volunteer firefighter in Marquette Heights for just over 2 years. In my 28+ years as a firefighter/EMT I have responded to a wide variety and a large number of emergencies. These have taken place in both urban and rural settings. I have also served as a union officer for Peoria Firefighters Local 50 for about 10 years in the early 2000’s serving our members as a Trustee, Steward, Vice President, and President. With the above-mentioned experience, I have seen the job through many lenses, and I understand the stressors that go along with the job and family life. My journey in this career has also resulted in me having been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Being a part of the original ILFFPS team since 2014 has been rewarding and humbling. I have been able to harness and redirect my struggles into helping others that have experienced some of the same. Any member of the fire service is welcome to contact me at any time. We train very hard to ensure everyone goes home. ILFFPS takes it a step further and ensures that we all keep coming back – up to and beyond retirement. Please make that call. Don’t wait another day!
Mark Benson has been working in the field of mental health since 1991. He earned a Master of Science in Education with a focus on Community Mental Health from Illinois State University in 1997. Having graduated from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited master’s programs, he is also a Nationally Certified Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Mark is trained in the Mitchell Model of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). Mark has worked in a variety of mental health settings. His primary focus has been on crisis intervention.
Mark worked in several capacities with two different mobile crisis teams in Central Illinois for more than 10 years. He also provided mental health services in the McLean County Detention Facility over an 18-year span; the last five years through his own private business. In his role as a program manager with a crisis team, Mark worked side-by-side with first responders, emergency departments and in-patient mental health units. He collaborated with these systems to create integrated services to assist individuals, to increase the likelihood of connection/reconnection to appropriate community services and to advance the goal of decreasing the likelihood of another crisis or psychiatric hospitalization.
Mark has been a Certified Mental Health Trainer with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) since 2002. He has been involved with Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training since 2010 and has been serving as the Regional Coordinator for Central and Southern Illinois CIT since 2013. Throughout his career, Mark has been fortunate to work side-by-side with first responders. Through the years, he has seen some first responders struggle, believing they could not get help. It has been an honor to assist first responders through de-briefing critical incidents, providing resources for self-care, referring individuals to professionals who will assist with healing, and working with first responders individually in his private practice. Mark is humbled by the opportunities he has been afforded.
Mark takes a cognitive behavioral therapy approach, believing individuals can make changes in their lives once they realize how they perceive and react to certain situations. His model employs assumptions of Solution Focused Therapy in that the client is believed to be the expert and has the skills to make positive changes. With connections to Motivational Interviewing, Mark creates an environment of support, reassurance, education and encouragement.
Hello. My name is Bob Schultz. I am a full-time contract paramedic on a rural volunteer fire department in Durand, IL as well as a POC Lieutenant with South Beloit Fire Department in South Beloit, IL. I have been with South Beloit since 2001 and have been with Durand since 2006. I have been a lieutenant since 2016. South Beloit is a combination fire department with 4 full time personnel and approximately 25 POC firefighters/emts.
I have been married to my wife, Karen, since 2003. In 2013 Karen and I adopted two teenager with special needs, Tyler and Sarah. Tyler has fairly significant cognitive disabilities as well as other emotional issues from abuse as a child. Sarah also has cognitive disabilities although not as severe as Tyler and she is deaf in one ear.
I am honored to be a member of ILFFPS and hope that I can do a small part in helping others know that it's ok to not be ok 100% of the time, that it is normal, and that they are not alone. I am also hoping to help de-stigmatize emotional wellbeing in the fire service.
Thank you for checking out my profile.
Westmont Fire Department
Hi, I’m Dan Sullivan. I retired as a part-time firefighter/paramedic at the end of 2015, after more than 28 years of service with the Downers Grove and Westmont Fire Departments. I have been a full-time hospital chaplain since 1986 and a volunteer chaplain with the Westmont Fire Department since 2016. I’m married to a critical care nurse. My eldest son is a full-time firefighter/paramedic and my daughter is a part-time firefighter/paramedic. My dad was a volunteer firefighter. Prior to marriage and my hospital ministry, I served as an associate pastor at a Catholic parish. I have also completed advanced training in critical incident stress management.
I really enjoyed my years wearing a blue shirt. I also had to learn how to dance, sometimes more and sometimes less effectively, with the unique stressors of the job, including the challenge of putting that blue shirt away for good. Life can get messy at times, but we also have each other’s back. I am honored to be a part of ILFFPS.