Violence in our society has
reached crisis proportions.

This conference is to raise awareness on today's warning signs and predictors of emergency situations, and provide training and information dissemination. It is geared toward public safety personnel, law enforcement, mental health providers, child protection personnel and school personnel.

Domestic Abuse: She has 'fallen down the stairs' three times this week... Child Molestation: This man has been here for an hour watching two children play... Terrorism: After looking over both his shoulders, a man left his bag and walked away rapidly. Child Abuse: Every day this girl seems afraid to go home after school. This young girl is resistant and appears frightened by the man forcing her into the car.

Conference Location

NSU Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center: 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

Surviving The Fire Service Conference Presenters

Jeremy Hurd

Jeremy Hurd is an EMS Captain with Palm Beach County (Florida) Fire Rescue (PBCFR) and runs the department's professional development. He is also the chaplain for PBCFR and has helped to develop a comprehensive behavioral health program for the department. He has a passion for helping firefighters' emotional wellness by teaching about our preparation for critical incidents and our reaction to them. He is on the board of Trustbridge Hospice of Palm Beach County, The Rosecrance Florian Program, and The Florida Firefighter Safety and Health Collaborative. He is currently enrolled in the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Executive Leadership and Disaster Preparedness. He teaches annually at the Fire Department Instructor's Conference, writes for Fire Engineering, and he has a monthly radio show on Fire Engineering entitled "Chaplain's Corner".

Samuel A. Eaton

Samuel A. Eaton is a 26 year career firefighter and 33 years in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He has promoted throughout his career and been an educator in EMS and Fire as well as active as an American Heart Association in BLS and ACLS instructor. He has taught for Palm Beach State College and JFK Medical Center's education department. He has served as a fire officer for 20 years in the ranks of Lieutenant, Captain, EMS Captain and for the past 10 years as an operations Battalion Chief for Palm Beach County (Florida) Fire Rescue.

Over the past decade he has helped to create awareness on the epidemic issue of fire service related cancer and is a founding co-chair of the organization F.A.C.E. Firefighters Attacking the Cancer Epidemic. Under the leadership of Chief Eaton and his Co-Chair Ret. Division Chief Vicki Sheppard the P.B.C. FACE Team expanded to State Wide recognition within the last three years later leading to the formation of the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative's State F.A.C.E. Team in November of 2016. That team is comprised of 25 fire service leaders from departments Jacksonville to Miami, along with the FCSN, with a sole focus on providing FF Cancer Prevention and

Dustin Hawkins

Dustin Hawkins has been serving as a Firefighter for Indian River County (Florida) Fire Rescue since 2002 and currently holds the rank of Engineer. Dustin has been dedicated to the Dive team since 2003 with multiple disciplines within the field. He has been an active member of the department's Honor Guard since its inception in 2004. Dustin is also serves as the department Chaplain as well as the IAFF - Local 2201 Chaplain.

Frank Leto

Captain Frank Leto is a 33-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the Deputy Director of its Counseling Service Unit (CSU). His association with the CSU began over 20 years ago as a Crisis Counselor for incidents such as line of duty deaths and mass casualty events. On September 11th, 2001 he responded to the World Trade Center as an officer in charge of a rescue team. Since 9/11, Captain Leto has developed innovative outreach, counseling and education programs for firefighters and their families who have experienced potentially traumatic events.

In addition to his work as Deputy Director of the CSU and its staff of ninety, he has worked closely with IAFF and NFFF to develop behavioral health protocols and to aid departments nationwide after major incidents. Captain Leto has also traveled internationally to share his experiences with fire departments in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and to Okinawa Japan to aid Military Fire Fighters. He has assisted the London Fire Brigade following terrorism incidents and Urban Search and Rescue Teams after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Through his work with the FDNY, IAFF and NFFF, he has supported numerous departments including those on the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Charleston, SC and Aurora, Colorado, Boston following the Marathon Bombing and Orlando following the Pulse night club shooting.

Frank was one the first graduates of the Military Academy at West Point Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program and also is a Certified Employees Assistance Professional.

Vicki Shepard

Vicki Sheppard started her fire service career as a Firefighter/Paramedic in 1980 and was promoted through the ranks of Lieutenant, District Chief, Battalion Chief, and retired in 2010 as the Division Chief of the Training & Safety Division for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

Educationally, Vicki has an A.S. degree in Occupational Therapy, Emergency Services, a B.S. degree in Fire Engineering and a Master's degree in Environmental Management.

Her passion has always been a commitment to the health and safety of the 1,500 members in the department and the entire fire service. This led to serving on many local and state committees that shared the vision of firefighter safety.

Since retirement, Vicki has organized, and is the President of the Palm Beach County Firefighters Retiree Association, a 501c3 charity that maintains the brotherhood by supporting the health and welfare of local firefighters as well as the community we fought so hard to protect.

In retirement, she continues to work on projects related to firefighters and cancer. Her main projects include:

  • The F.A.C.E. Team at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue developed to reduce firefighter cancers through prevention, research, education and support.
  • The Butch Smith Poker Classic which is a fund raiser designed to promote the awareness of firefighters and cancer.
  • The AERIAL project which involves the retirees in the Firefighter Cancer Initiative with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health Systems.

The Secretary/Treasurer for the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative, a 501c3 organization that provides resources and best practices to improve firefighter safety, firefighter cancer prevention, health and fitness, and mental wellness.

Juan C. Garcia, M.D.

Physician. Cardiology practice in South Florida for 30 years.

Father of the late Fire Lt. Ralf Garcia (City of Miami Fire Rescue Department), who passed away from cancer.

Denise L. Smith, Ph.D

Dr. Denise Smith, Exercise Physiology, focuses on the relationship between heat stress and cardiovascular function. A significant portion of her research focuses on the cardiovascular strain associated with firefighting activity. She has published several articles the effects of firefighting on cardiovascular function, coagulatory potential, immune function and hormonal status. Dr. Smith has also conducted several laboratory studies designed to identify specific components of firefighting activity (work performed, heat stress, sympathetic nervous stimulation) that are responsible for specific physiological responses to the combined stress of firefighting.

Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1990 and her Masters of Science degree in 1985. Her undergraduate work was completed at Houghton College.

Captain Christopher Bator

Captain Bator began his career in 1996 as a Firefighter Paramedic with the Coral Springs Fire Department and in that time has risen to the rank of Captain assigned to an Engine company. Captain Bator also serves as an Acting Battalion Chief, Safety Officer, Instructor, and Chair of the Safety and Health Committee for the Coral Springs Fire Department. Captain Bator is the President and co-founder of the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative.

Public speaking engagements include teaching at the local fire department, area departments, Safety Stand Downs, and presentations on the Collaborative. Specific events include: Broward County EMS Coalition 2016, Florida Fire Chiefs Safety and Health Conference 2016, Firefighter Cancer Initiative at University of Miami.

Captain Bator has an AS degree in EMS and is a State of Florida Certified Live Fire Instructor, Instructor 2, Fire Officer 3, and Safety Officer. Captain Bator also received his Fire Officer Designation from the Center of Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Safety Program Operations and is in his second year of the National Fire Academy's Managing Officer Program.

Captain Bator and the team from the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative were highlighted recently on Ret. Captain Jeff Dills Fire Engineering Radio show, Safety and Health week website, Chief Billy Goldfeders, and recently published article in Florida Fire Service Magazine Nov 2016 edition and June 2017 eFire Engineering edition highlighting the Collaborative effort on both Firefighter Cancer and Safety Stand Down.

The Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative was recently nominated for the Congressional Fire Service Paul S. Sarbarnes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award and is the recipient of Broward County Fire Chiefs Association Mike Murphy Innovator of the Year award 2017