Developing a Peer Support Program

This presentation is designed to teach members and department leaders the components of a working peer support program.  Dena Ali explains the development of the North Carolina Peer Support Team, and how we built resources for the team. She also will discuss partnerships with other national leading peer support programs such as IAFF Peer Support, Illinois Firefighter Peer Support, and the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative. 

Peer Supporters learn the components of behavioral health and the commonality of behavioral health disorders. They serve as advocates for mental health and become a first line of defense for a member who may be suffering in silence.  The three main components of peer support are active listening, confidentiality, and action planning.  Peer Supporters learn that active listening is the cornerstone of peer support.  They are taught techniques and advantages of proper active listening.  They recognize that their job is not to counsel or solve another member’s problem, but to simply be there, nonjudgmentally, and know the proper resources for referral. Finally, peer supporters are taught to help the member in need develop and implement an action plan.


1 November 2018
01:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
12:00 PM Central Daylight Time
10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time
17:00 Greenwich Mean Time

A certificate of attendance is offered.

Duration: Approximately one hour.

Presented by:
Dena Ali Captain Raleigh (NC) Fire Department

Dena Ali is a captain with the Raleigh (NC) Fire Department and intermediate with Wake County EMS. Prior to becoming a firefighter, she served five years as a police officer in North Carolina. Ali has a degree from North Carolina State University. She is a graduate student at UNCP, and her research focuses on firefighter suicide. Ali taught her class on suicide prevention at FDIC International 2018. She is an avid cyclist and founding member of the Carolina Brotherhood. Ali also serves as an advocate for 555 Fitness.  

Daniel DeGryse Battalion Chief, Chicago (IL) Fire Department Director, Rosecrance Florian Program

Daniel DeGryse is the director of the Rosecrance Florian Program and a battalion chief in the Chicago (IL) Fire Department. He began his career with the Chicago Fire Department in 1989.  He also worked in a private psychiatric hospital for six years providing individual, group, and family therapy for adolescents and adults in the areas of addiction, mental health issues, and behavior management. Following that, he was the coordinator of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for 14 years. While in this position, he started the Chicago Firefighters Union Peer Support program called “Gatekeepers,” providing training for team members on addiction and mental health issues, suicide, and related topics. 

In 2014, he created the Florian Program with Rosecrance Health Network and serves as the director. Florian is a 14-bed unit within Rosecrance that provides inpatient treatment for firefighters and paramedics dealing with substance abuse and co-occurring issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  This program was expanded in 2017 to include all first responders and military personnel.

He has a bachelor of science degree in fire science management from Southern Illinois University and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Wabash College. He is a Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP), a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC), a Certified Labor Assistance Professional (LAP/C), and a Certified ARISE Interventionist (CAI); has advanced training in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and assist level training in suicide prevention; and received the “Illinois Firefighter of the Year” award in 2009 from the Illinois VFW. He was also the keynote speaker at FDIC International 2018.

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