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Spring 2019 Symposium Speakers and Schedule

Meet Your ILFFPS 2019 Symposium Speakers


Annette Zapp, CSCS, TSAC-F

A 15-year veteran of the fire service, Zapp holds the rank of Lieutenant and has over 25 years’ experience in fitness coaching and training. She owns and operates FireSQFitness, a coaching business dedicated to the health and wellness of our first responders.

Holding a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology she is also credentialed through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator. She is certified as Precision Nutrition PN-1 and as a CISSN through the International Society of Sports Nutritionists.

A specialist in training the tactical athlete as well as the desk warrior, there’s a special place in her heart for those individuals who simply just want to move better and FEEL BETTER. Finding the sweet spot of the appropriate goal and the most effective methods of safely and effectively meeting the goal is her overreaching focus.

Sign up now to attend this session at the 2019 ILFFPS Symposium.

Session Overview: Nutrition Best Practices for Firefighter Health and Mental Wellness 

Physical fitness, sleep and nutrition all play key roles in modulating mood, self-esteem and mental health in our first responders.  Firefighters, much like the general public, are at risk of analysis paralysis due to the inundation of health and wellness information from the media.  This session will delve into evidence based nutritional principles to support our first responders. Attendees will gain insight from research supported scientific data which dictates best practices for nutrition as well as the behavioral facets of nutrition where all humans often fall short.  Attendees will also leave with skills and best practices that they can implement immediately. 

Andy Perry, Engine Company Captain

My name is Andy Perry. I entered the fire service at age 18 as a volunteer firefighter in Marquette Heights, IL just days after graduating from High School. For the last 25 years I have been with The City of Peoria as a full-time firefighter, currently serving as a Captain on an Engine Company. In 2014 I attended the first Illinois Firefighter Peer Support training to become a peer supporter. Since then I have had the privilege of being a team member and held leadership roles in this new but critical resource for the fire service. As a firefighter that once needed help, but knew of few options, I now enjoy taking a proactive approach to education on mental health situations that exist in our profession. Additionally, I am humbled to assist fellow firefighters and paramedics in times of need by simply being open and approachable. This is part of a cultural shift I hope to help move forward.

Jeff Dill, MA, LPC, Captain (Ret.)

In 2011, Jeff Dill founded Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA).  *this organization is a 501 (3) (C)

Jeff travels the United States and Canada holding workshops to teach firefighters and EMS about behavioral health awareness and suicide prevention. FBHA is the
only known organization that collects and validates data on FF and EMT suicides across the United States. In addition, FBHA holds classes for counselors/chaplains, family members and preparing for retirement.

Jeff Dill holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Argosy University (IL), a Licensed Professional Counselor, and a retired Captain at Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in Inverness, Illinois.

Dr. Kristy McKiness headshot Dr. Kristy McKiness, Ed.D, LCPC, ACS 

Dr. McKiness is the founder of KM Institute LLC, and has been in the helping profession since 2001. She completed her doctorate degree in Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University. Dr. McKiness has rendered services in settings including jail, emergency room, outpatient, residential, and schools.  Dr. McKiness has worked with first responders since 2001 through collaboration with CACI and forensic interviewing, providing professional trainings, rendering mental health and substance abuse services to responders and their families, and training other clinicians to work with first responders. She is also a NEMRT certified trainer for CIT trainings. She holds certifications the areas of sexual assault and domestic violence, a 120 hour specialization certification in counseling firefighters, is a certified divorce mediator and forensic interviewer, and has a certification as an Approved Clinical Supervisor. Dr. McKiness is also the Clinical Director for the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team as well as the Clinical Director for Operation Shattered Stars police peer support team.

Sign up for the 2019 Symposium today.

Chris Marella FF/PM, CPT, CFSC

A firefighter paramedic since 2003, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Functional Strength Coach, and Founder of 4th Shift Fitness.  Chris has coached adult clients, youth athletes and tactical athletes since 2012 and is the Head of Operations for his departments Health and Wellness Committee.  From playing junior hockey to being a member of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge Grand National Championship Team, Chris has a well-rounded base in training and also coaching for physical preparedness and performance.

4th Shift Fitness is a company dedicated to reducing the occurrence and severity of firefighter injuries and their associated costs.  This is done through on-site seminars, workshops and training sessions. The reduction of injuries is a personal matter for Chris as he has been injured on the fire scene as well as witnessed several of his co-workers be placed on disability pensions due to catastrophic injuries.

Session Overview: Fitness

The connection between mind and body is powerful.  Often times one is leveraged against the other in ways that are not readily identifiable or easy to make sense of.  By understanding the physiological effects of injuries, exercise and the reaction of the brain and body, we can better use fitness as a proactive health measure and rehabilitation tactic.

Colleen Murphy

My name is Colleen Murphy.  I have been the wife of a firefighter for over 10 years.  My life experiences have taught me things you won’t find on paper.  From the time my husband was a “paid on call” employee, to a full time firefighter, and a carpenter/home inspector, I have witnessed firsthand the effects the job can have at home.   

I believe that knowledge is not only power, but the much needed tool it takes to beat the odds in a culture that often times leaves loved ones with feelings of emotional neglect.  After studying the link between behavioral health and the firefighter’s job, I decided that sharing my experiences would create a better understanding for the loved ones at home and ultimately create a safer, more balanced life for the firefighter.   

I can provide a fresh perspective, support, and insight that will shed light for loved ones as well as tips and ideas to minimize concerns and fears that come with the role of being the significant other.  

Session Overview: First Responders and Family Life

Ever wonder why your firefighter insists on having the dishes done a particular way?  Do you find it strange that the garage floor is clean enough to eat off of, or why after being gone for 24 hours your firefighter has nothing to say when he walks through the door?  Come learn a fresh perspective on all the things that come with the job that no one ever told you when they handed over the uniform. Learn how to knock down fear and anxiety about your firefighters’ safety on the job; and how to work smarter not harder when it comes to keeping your relationship healthy with your firefighter.  Learn how to recognize compassion fatigue and PTSD; and discuss why depression or other behavioral health symptoms are a part of “in sickness and in health.”  We look forward to seeing and hearing from you! 

Jacqueline Toomey

With over ten years of experience in the field of health and wellness, I have dedicated my expertise towards my passion for first responder mental restoration and physical wellness. I specialize in sleep-deprivation therapy and founded the transformative First Responder Sleep Recovery Program™. I received my BA from Regis University, completed masters-level coursework in Education at Metropolitan State University and have trained at the Nutrition Therapy Institute. I am a 3-time Yoga Alliance internationally certified instructor.  I delivered the keynote speech at the 2016 Colorado Firefighters Academy Conference on Sleep Loss Killing Firefighters, instructed at IAFC Fire Rescue Med Conference 2018, consult for firefighter nonprofits and regularly teach Sleep Recovery classes for fire departments, peer support groups, unions and FOOLS across the nation. I am a contributing author to the online publication, and  

Session Overview: First Responder Sleep Recover Program ™

Sleep loss is part of the job. We get that. It always will be. That’s why we are here. We aren’t here to discuss the need for more sleep, we are here to educate on how sleep works to optimize the little sleep you do get as a firefighter. There are proven techniques and practices you will learn in our class to maximize your sleep.  

This life changing class is not just helpful to your sleep, it’s health saving. You see, research is now showing that if you improve your sleep your risk for heart attack and cancer decreases. Your hormones like testosterone, your memory function, energy levels and mood will improve. Besides, who doesn’t want to feel better?   

Here’s what to expect: 

  • Myth-busters on what SLEEP is and isn’t  
  • The greater role sleep plays on the heart, your immunity, hormones like testosterone and more 
  • How to maximize the quality of sleep you receive through routines, environmental factors and supplements  
  • You’ll experience a Sleep Recovery Practice, a unique relaxation experience that has been extensively tested and proven to help the body relax, treat insomnia, PTSD, depression, anxiety and chronic pain and fatigue.  

Jerry Marzullo, J.D., M.B.A.

Jerry Marzullo is a founding partner with the law firm of Puchalski Goodloe Marzullo, LLP.  His practice solely focuses on the representation of police and fire pension funds and public employee labor unions on both a Federal and Local level.  He has successfully represented pension funds and labor Unions in both Federal and State Courts and has spoken at numerous labor and pension conferences in the State of Illinois.  Jerry is one of the founding members of the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Network.  Equal to his law practice, Jerry is currently a Battalion Chief with the City of Berwyn Fire Department (IAFF-AFFI Local 506) with 19 years of creditable service.  He is the former President of the Berwyn Firefighters Pension Fund and former Vice- President of IAFF-AFFI Local 506.  Jerry earned a B.A. in Accounting from DePaul a J.D. from Loyola University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is a firefighter/EMT with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  He serves as a member of SFFR’s Peer Support and Chaplain’s Teams.  Jon is the host of The Fire Inside Podcast, a weekly show dedicated to the mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of the first responder community.  Jon also serves as the Lead Pastor of The RESCUE Church, a non-denominational church with multiple locations in rural communities in South Dakota, Illinois, and Jamaica.  He has been married to his wife Jessica for 22 years.

Session Overview: Faith in the Fire Service:  7 Ways Personal Faith Produces Great Public Servants

Some people view faith as nothing more than a private matter that should essentially remain behind the scenes, detached, and unexpressed, especially in a public profession like the fire service.  But what if faith is actually a powerful, all-encompassing component that has the ability to make a positive, visible, and tangible impact in every arena of ones life…including their work in the fire service?  In this course you will discover how an active faith is extremely beneficial to you as a fire fighter, your crew, and the community you serve.

Wendy Lund RN, BScN, MSc Mindfulness Studies 

Wendy brings more than 3 decades of experience as a Professor in Nursing & Paramedicine to Wellth Management Inc.  She has a gift for helping others to understand the neurological changes associated with compassionate-based mindfulness practices.  Her research focus for her MSc in Mindfulness Studies investigated evidence-based practices to build resiliency in a first responders.  Her trademarked certificate program, Reach for Resiliency [R4R] is now being offered in Ontario and Alberta Canada (firefighers, paramedics, HR, education, hospitals, military & corporate).   A seasoned workshop leader and educator, Wendy’s unique approach to redefining wealth has been well received.    

CEO/Founder Wellth Management Inc. @WorkWithHeartWM 


Brian Cristofono

Brian began his career as a firefighter in 2003 just outside Minneapolis Mn.  Three years later in 2006 he became a firefighter/paramedic and joined the ranks of the Saint Paul Fire department, a capital city department with 470 members and an annual call volume of 45,000 calls per year.   Ten years, thousands of calls, five line of duty deaths and three department suicides later, Brian was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.  In 2016 Brian retired on a disability and began working with the Minnesota State legislature to pass legislative reform and make PTSD a work related injury and covered under the presumption law.  In 2017 the bill passed unanimously and made PTSD for all Fire, Ems, Police officers, Correction officers, Dispatchers, and Nurses a work related injury.   Brian has been passionately fighting to raise public awareness of the serious issues of mental health and stress first responders face in the line of service.  Raising awareness educating the public to what first responders see on the job as well as what ptsd is and isn’t helps to change policy and get better program in place to help our first responders.  Brian also speaks to departments about resiliency, what can be done to help members suffering from the stress of the job, what to look for, and how to initiate mental wellness programs with in the department.

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 17 years, Bill has been the Director of Operations and Training for the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group (CHUG) which mission is to “Provide Emergency Management research, planning, education and response for Healthcare Organizations”.  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 in being 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.


Symposium Schedule

Thursday, March 21:

7:30 am, Check-in and Coffee
8:00am, Breakfast
9:00 am, Keynote
10:00 am, Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Jeff Dill on Suicide
  • Annette Zapp on Nutrition
  • Wendy Lund on Resiliency
  • Dr. Kristi McKiness on Depression and Anxiety
  • Brian Cristofano on PTSD

Noon, Lunch

1:00 pm, Full session panel discussion
2:30 pm, Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Andy Perry on Building a Peer Team
  • Jacqueline Toomey on Sleep
  • Jon Sanders on Faith
  • Jerry Marzullo on Legal issues
  • Chris Marella on Fitness
  • Bill Pretzer

6:00 – 8:00pm, Screening | The Other Side of the Hero
*All are welcome to attend the screening

Friday, March 22:

8:00am, Check-in and Breakfast
9:00 am
, Keynote
10:00 am, Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Jeff Dill on Suicide
  • Annette Zapp on Nutrition
  • Wendy Lund on Resiliency
  • Dr. Kristi McKiness on Depression and Anxiety
  • Brian Cristofano on PTSD

Noon, Lunch

1:00 pm, Full session panel discussion
2:30 pm, Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Andy Perry on Building a Peer Team
  • Jacqueline Toomey on Sleep
  • Jon Sanders on Faith
  • Colleen Murphy on First Responders and Family Life
  • Clare Round Table
  • Bill Pretzer

4:00 pm, closing comments


Register For the ILFFPS 2019 Symposium Today

*Now through Valentine’s Day, register both you and your significant other for a 14% discount!



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Our Vision

"Illinois Firefighter Peer Support seeks to contribute and provide ongoing emotional wellness resources that are readily needed in the fire service and for emergency responders." Learn More...