Impact of The HEROES Project on First Responders’ Well-Being

Daniel M. Blumberg, Luciano Giromini, Konstantinos Papazoglou, A. Renee Thornton


First responders experience a myriad of stressors (e.g., operational, organizational, personal) over the course of their career. An abundance of empirical evidence shows that the impact of those stressors on first responders’ health, well-being, and performance can be detrimental. Nevertheless, previous research has mainly focused on the role of a specific technique (e.g., mindfulness, breathing exercises, psychoeducation) towards the promotion of well-being among first responders. This allows us to explore the role of a single technique in supporting first responders. However, given the complexity of stressors experienced by this population, it appears that a synergistic role of multileveled intervention is imperative to promote lasting improvement in first responders’ well-being. To this end, The HEROES Project, an eight-week online training program, was developed to address the aforementioned gap in the literature. The HEROES Project incorporates lessons that aim to build a cluster of skills that together promote first responders’ wellbeing. In the present study, a sample of first responders (n = 124) from the US Midwest were recruited and completed The HEROES Project. They were assessed before and after completion of the program, and then follow-up measurements were obtained for two years following the baseline assessment. Results showed that participants with higher distress and lower psychological resources before the training benefited most from The HEROES Project, but that the training significantly improved psychological capital and reduced stress, depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms for all participants. Clinical and training implications as well as future research directions are discussed.


First responders; well-being; health; performance; resilience; police training

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ISSN: 2371-4298 (Online)