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Meet Our Project Hope: EMS Staff


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Project Hope: EMS Senior Admin

Heather Girardin

I worked in EMS for just shy of 15 years, three years as a basic and 12 as a paramedic. I began my career in Southern Illinois, running for a private company that provided 911 service for the city and then decided that I wanted to move up to the Chicago area to gain some more experience and to begin working on my paramedic certification. I worked in the Tinley Park area for a private service and went on to complete my paramedic certification through the Christ EMS system. When I wasn’t working on an ambulance I worked as an ER Tech both in northern Illinois and later in the St. Louis area.

Throughout my time in college my studies focused on PTSD and Addiction within EMS and the effects it had on the family. I have faced my own personal battles with both addiction as well as failed relationships due to PTSD. I met my husband when he covered a shift for my partner, together we ran two of the hardest calls that I have ever had to run as a medic. I can still hear the cry of a little boy begging for me to save his mother and walking into to the house and realizing that there was nothing I could do, but I had to do everything possible, so her son would see that I tried. It did not take long for me to see and experience just how much pain can come from doing something that you loved, and in 2012 I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have many great memories from my time in EMS, but some of my worst calls still haunt me today.

I graduated from Fontbonne University in St. Louis Missouri in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Sciences. Since graduating I have worked as a psychiatric therapist on an inpatient adult intellectual or developmental disability (IDD)unit as well as a child advocate at a domestic violence shelter. Currently I am pursuing my master’s degree in professional counseling at Concordia University Wisconsin, with the intentions of working with first responders and their families.


Project Hope: EMS Moderator

Don Prince 

 IMAC, NCACIP, Ex-Chief Brookhaven Fire Department,

Certified DISCflex Behavioral Health Coach, International Master of Addiction Coaching, Nationally Certified Advanced Clinical Intervention Professional, former NYS Certified EMT-B, member of the Help our Wounded Foundation of South Florida Ambassador Committee, consultant and lecturer to the Sweeney Alliance and community volunteer.

I served for sixteen years as a firefighter and then chief of the Brookhaven Fire Department, LI, NY during which time I briefly worked at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of 9-11 before being asked to resign due to my addiction.

Today I am a person in long term recovery which has allowed me to fill the roll of recovery peer support specialist which is a person who has progressed in their own recovery from substance or other dependence and is willing to self-identify as a peer in order to assist others with their journey into sobriety.

My passion today is to assist other responders and their families to get the help they need with addiction, PTS therapy and other job related issues in addition to the development of innovative behavioral health care programs for first responders.

Project Hope: EMS Moderator

Shannon Twining 

I am a 21 year veteran of EMS. 10 years ago I had a call that resonated with me day and night. I sought help from a therapist who diagnosed me with PTSD. This was a diagnosis that was hard for my family to understand as well as myself. I felt alone. A few years ago I found Project Hope EMS and realized I was not alone in my struggles. Project Hope EMS saves my life. Since then, I have gotten my masters degree in psychology to help understand more about PTSD. I am now a proud moderator for the Project Hope EMS page. “Trauma creates change we don’t choose. Healing is about creating change we do choose.”-Michelle Rosenthal

Project Hope: EMS Moderator

Chaplain Doug Pruitt

Commander, National State Chaplains Foundation, Texas State Chaplains, Colorado State Chaplains. 501(c)3

Executive director of RALLY-project.com RALLY-project.com

Director of Chaplaincy Hood County Sheriffs Office and Hood County Fire Marshall’s Office.

Advanced Debrief multi county CISM team (Critical Incident Stress Management)

MVPN team leader (Military Combat PTSD peer to peer)

Ambassador for REBOOT combat recovery

FIRSTLINE 1st responder trauma recovery

Executive Adult Advisor Hood, Erath, Somerville County Law Enforcement Explorers.

Project Hope: EMS Moderator

Jim Nielsen

Jim is a Certified PTSD Counselor with 45 years experience years as a First Responder. He has worked as a Campus Police Officer. a Police Dispatcher, Volunteer Firefighter and a 9-1-1 Paramedic. Now retired, he continues to serve the EMS community by lecturing and consoling first responders who have been exposed to traumatic events.

Project Hope: EMS Moderator

Jonathan Whited

I am a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician and Fire Fighter. I been in Emergency service and Fire dept. for about 15 yr., and I am a Crisis Specialist for about 4 year in Suicide Prevention, Individual and Group Intervention. I am a Child Advocate for about 1 year. I enjoy helping people and have been in Mental Health for 5 years. Jon is also a member of the National Center For Crisis Management.


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