Meet Our Team of Instructors

Susan Farren

Founder/Executive Director

Paramedic (ret.)

Susan Farren is the founder of First Responders Resiliency, Inc.™ A graduate of the Stanford paramedic program, Susan has served her entire career in the industry of pre-hospital care. Serving in both the private and public sectors as a paramedic, supervisor, operations manager, peer counselor, clinical manager, EMS educator and consultant throughout the greater Bay Area.

After being diagnosed with kidney cancer in early 2016 and undergoing major surgery, Susan was floored by the research she found about first responder physical, emotional and mental impacts her career had on her personal and professional life. This is where the Resiliency Training Program was born.

After her treatment and recovery, Susan dove into the research and subsequent data discovered involving the mental and physical impacts the industry had taken on her. Armed with that knowledge she pulled together a team of experts from every division of the industry who are working as a team to change the lives of First Responders.

A regularly sought after inspirational speaker and a published author of The Fireman’s Wife, A Memoir. Her second book, Responder Resiliency, An Owner's Manual is now available to purchase.

Ron Shull

Resiliency Instructor

Fire Engineer (ret.)

Ron Shull served 31 years with the Santa Rosa Fire Department, retiring in 2014 from the department’s busiest station, Station 1. Shull additionally served on the department’s Union Executive Board as well as pioneered their wellness and fitness program. In 2012, he was voted by his peers as Firefighter of the Year.

Dr. Gary McCalla

Resiliency Instructor

Emergency Medical Director

Dr. Gary McCalla has 30+ years of experience as a residency-trained, board-certified Emergency Medical Specialist. He has been trained as the Medical Director for both REACH Helicopters and American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR). Dr. McCalla currently teaches our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy module.

Eric Strom

Resiliency Instructor

Physical Exercise and Nutrition

Fire Captain (ret.)

Tod Ceruti

Resiliency Instructor

Tactical Yoga


Cathy Wayne

Resiliency Instructor

Cumulative Trauma and Substance Abuse

Captain/Field Commander (ret.)

Dr. Jen Riegle

Resiliency Instructor

Nutrition and Wildland Toxins

Naturopathic Doctor

Bailey Farren Coming from a family of first responders, Bailey has always been inspired to work closely with first responder wellness. She merges her skills as an incredible artist with her degree in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley, to lead first responders in our Art Therapy module and Hemi-sync Presentation.

Nick Loffree is a Senior Instructor and Teacher Trainer for the internationally recognized school Holden QiGong. He has studied Neuroscience, Buddhist/Yogic conceptions of the mind, Nutritional Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Loffree now works with us to provide Qigong as PTSD therapy to police, firefighters, and military participants.

Veronica Stirnus is a Sonoma County native who is a graduate from Sonoma State University. Her husband, Gabe, is both a captain with Sonoma Valley Fire Dept, as well as a part-time paramedic on the Sheriff’s Department helicopter. Veronica balances being a busy mom of 2 young sons, with working in the spouse and family component of First Responders Resiliency, Inc.™, training families and loved ones how to support themselves and their loved ones.

Carie Levar has been married to a firefighter for 20 years and has four children. Carie became a part of the FRRI team in July 2019 after her husband attended one of our conferences and she attended the family session. Simply put, Carie says, "The conference changed our lives and saved our marriage." She knew immediately that she needed to be a part of this organization. Carie's goal as an instructor is to share with loved ones what she wishes she knew earlier; that they're not alone and about the importance of self-care.

Mike Watt is a military veteran who grew up in Sacramento, CA. After serving in the military, he became a firefighter/EMT for 15 years before retiring. In 2018, he attended a conference with FRRI where he was able to identify and treat issues he was experiencing with post traumatic stress. Mike shares with the families his experience and the aspects of dealing with post traumatic stress.