First Responders United


The Goal:  Caring For the Caregivers

The goal of First Responders United is to provide a resource for treatment of PTSD in First Responders (firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, correctional officers and 911 communications staff and dispatchers) that is affordable, effective and scientifically based.  

There are few such Treatment services offered in Ontario, (where more than half of firefighters are volunteers), and those that are available are prohibitively expensive when not covered by insurance. We plan to offer up to 10 week long retreats per year, and we anticipate that First responders would come from the Trenton to Quebec border corridor initially. While First Responders United is an outreach ministry of St. John’s United Church in Cardinal, Ontario, the program is not religiously based and all First Responders are welcome.

The Project:

Offering  week long, residential Retreats, our purpose is to provide First Responders with evidence-based psychological treatment as well as education, self-care strategies, and a peer support network to enable them to reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Program encourages healthy career decisions and aims to reduce the long-term impact of traumatic incident stress on individual’s lives. Sessions are led by Rev. Dr. Edward Murray, Clinical Psychologist and Pastor, and Therapist Roberta Weir, both former First Responders. All members of the First Responders United team, including the mental health professionals, peer supporters, and civilian staff providing their time on a volunteer basis.





What is the estimated cost of this project?


Costs for the project are centred on renovating St. John’s Church Hall to accommodate overnight stays, meditation room, and meeting spaces, estimated at $70,000, & consisting of renovations to include  conversion of classrooms to bedrooms, showers, a food preparation area, a lounge, a meditation room, painting,  and the purchase of furnishings – beds, linens, carpet, seating and a sound system. Each bedroom, of which there are 5, accommodates 3 participants. All of the labour is being performed by volunteers.

What is the estimated date of completion if this group receives the donation?

We have already held two sessions. All renovations will be completed by September 2018


How will completion of this project directly benefit the residents of South Dundas?

The residents of South Dundas would directly benefit by access to local and affordable treatment for First Responders who live and work in their community. Effective and timely treatment promotes healthy recovery with positive residual effects on families, co-workers and communities, along with awareness and understanding.

What do you know about this organization that you wish everyone knew?

First Responders United is a non-profit organization that is part of the ministry outreach work of St. John’s United Church in Cardinal, Ontario. The Clinical Director  is Edward Murray, Ph.D., Psy. D., M.A., C.Psych. Edward is a clinical psychologist and he is registered in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and New Brunswick. The services of the Retreat team are donated, as is the time volunteered for  the manual labour for the renovations.  A true community project.

First Responders United is a unique program – led by two mental health professionals; a psychologist and psychotherapist, who are both former First Responders. They are supported by a team of serving and retired First Responders.  In other words, they “get it.”  

To our knowledge, this program is unique in the whole of the United Church Of Canada. We know of no other existing ministry particularly directed toward helping First Responders through a series of affordable, professionally-led “residential” retreats.


Existing residential PTSD treatment options can be prohibitively expensive. An exciting feature of this ministry is that the services we are offering will be financially accessible for those who are suffering and don’t have the money for private treatment.