I've been to civilian treatment three times, and every time I was treated like a number, not a person. FRF is different—it's a family and a fellowship and people who care. The staff is what sets FRF apart.
— R.H., Firefighter
I have worked in the field of substance use disorder for 30 years. My professional credentials are CADC-II, I completed my academics at Saddleback College in Orange County California in 1995. I have certifications in anger/stress management, motivational interviewing, screening/assessments, parenting, and cognitive behavioral interventions for substance use disorder. I am also an experienced teacher of rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) which is my preferred modality of treatment. While the knowledge, experience, and certifications I have acquired over the years contributes to my efficacy as a clinician the most powerful attribute I have is my personal recovery (almost 30 years). I have effectively managed privately owned and non-profit social model residential/IOP substance use disorder treatment programs for over 20 years. These agencies provided services to a wide array of clients who suffer from substance use disorder and mental health issues. I initially started out teaching 1st and 2nd offender DUI classes from there I transitioned into providing services and supervising drug diversion programs. In the last 25 years I have had the pleasure to work with a wide variety of populations including affluent high functioning individuals to those in prison with special needs such as “SNY” and those sentenced to “life” behind bars. All of which has prepared me for my current position of providing services to first responders. I have a special passion for working with first responders because my father spent 36 years of his life serving our country in the military and then another 14 years in private security. I grew up in an environment where a life of service is expected and after experiencing a few slight deviations from that path I eventually embraced the “life of service.” Working with first responders has been the most honorable and rewarding work I have ever done. The opportunity to provide services to those who serve and protect the public is without parallel. My life is truly enriched by the experience.
Eric Rivas is a retired police sergeant with 29 years of service in the Southern California area. He’s worked an array of assignments including patrol, undercover narcotics, gang detective and patrol supervisor. Eric currently facilitates the supervisor course at the Criminal Justice Training Center for Goldenwest College. He is also the sitting president for Blue Anchor Wellness, a non-profit that provides mental wellness resources for first responders. Having worked in law enforcement as well as side by side with firefighters and other first responders, Eric brings a passion for their wellness and has joined our team with the goal of helping save those who sacrifice for so many.
Dr. Wehrle has helped patients suffering from addiction for many years. He graduated with honors from the University of Southern California School of Medicine in 1987. Dr. Wehrle completed his medical internship in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine and his Residency in Anesthesiology at USC where his peers chose him Chief Resident. Dr. Wehrle has worked in the addiction treatment field since 1991 and has treated thousands of patients with polysubstance abuse and coexisting disorders that required expertise in management of pre-operative, intraoperative and post-operative care. He is Board Certified in both Addiction Medicine and Anesthesiology. He has earned the distinction to be selected as a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Wehrle employs evidence based medications and protocols to safely detox and stabilize patients suffering from addiction. Dr. Wehrle is happily married to Lissa Wehrle and is the proud father of four grown sons.
Dr. Jason Chapman is a board-certified psychiatrist in Los Angeles, CA and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. He proudly joined the FRF team in 2020 and specializes in addictions, personality and mood disorders, as well as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Chapman served as a Infantry Rifleman in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a Corporal with the 2nd Battalion/1st Marine Division and deployed to the Persian Gulf before studying biochemistry at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. He worked as a research associate at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA before attending medical school at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, CA. He then completed his internship and residency in psychiatry at UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research in Fresno, CA before returning to Los Angeles. He has worked alongside first responders for nearly a decade while providing psychiatric care to incarcerated individuals. Dr. Chapman’s interest in the study of addiction and trauma psychiatry stems from his childhood experience with his father’s alcoholism. After experiencing the devastation caused by this chronic illness, and upon treating addiction and co-morbid psychiatric conditions during his psychiatry training, he discovered that he had been preparing all his life for this calling. Dr. Chapman’s easygoing demeanor, thorough assessments and collegiality have made him a favorite among his patients and colleagues. Dr. Chapman enjoys traveling with his family, supporting veterans and taking in hours of “wind-therapy” on his 2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.
Elizabeth G. Rivas, M.A., holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#94886). She is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). She has many years in private practice working with first responders and their families and is a Clinical Supervisor at a non profit organization. Elizabeth volunteered as a Domestic Violence victim advocate and went on ride alongs for three years with police officers to assist in counseling victims. She worked at College Hospital at their intensive outpatient clinic working with patients with mental illness as a case manager and facilitated group therapy. Elizabeth held support groups for first responders and victims who were at the Route 91 tragedy, as well as Deputies and Dispatchers who responded to the Borderline shooting. Elizabeth was a former police explorer and served as a Corrections Officer. She is married to a retired police Sergeant with a 29-year career. Her specialty areas include but are not limited to: Trauma/Abuse, Neglect, Anger Management, Anxiety, Depression, Grief/Loss Mourning, Marriage/Relationship issues, Mood Disorders, PTSI/PTSD, Sexual/Domestic Abuse, Stress Management and Couples Counseling. In addition, Elizabeth teaches at the Criminal Justice Training Center focusing on Mental Wellness for the 40-hour Sergeant’s course and is completing her Doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University. Elizabeth is bilingual in Spanish.
Born and raised in California, Stan Sorensen survived some turbulent childhood experiences including physical, emotional and sexual abuse; school trauma; and then the ravages of active duty in the US Navy during the Viet Nam war. Upon discharge from the Navy, he found himself lost, alone and deeply depressed, living in a foreign country suffering with serious bouts of hopelessness and despair. Alcohol and isolation seemed to be his only relief from pain. Fortunately for Stan, he read a book on recovery that inspired him to seek sobriety and healing, which then led to a career as a mental health professional. For the past 50 years, Stan’s journey from despair has taken him through a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Sophia University in Tokyo; a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and licensure as a MFT in California; 10 years of practice in an acute care hospital; 6 years overseeing residential treatment for children and adults; 10 years of work in psychosocial rehabilitation; and 9 years of creating and directing a healing center for adults recovering from childhood abuse and other life traumas with an emphasis on holistic treatment, integrating treatment of mental, substance, and physical disorders.
Mr. Maxwell joins “First Responders First” with over 23 years experience as a sworn law enforcement officer. He also is a member of the Crisis Negotiation Team, Peer-Support on the Officer Involved Shooting Team and currently serves as a part of the Mental Evaluation Team (MET). Having served for eight years in the United States Air Force, this First Responder is now a mental health therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral therapy. This highly-effective treatment seeks to educate the patient on how negative thoughts (Cognitive Distortions) are the cause of most mood disorders.
Having earned her Registered Nursing degree from Antelope Valley College in June of 2015, Wendy has a passion for mental health nursing and specializes in drug rehabilitation. Prior to becoming an RN, she worked as a LVN in the “ambulatory care” field. For the past three years, she has been a nurse for the “Department of Corrections” and has been continuing her education with the goal of earning her Masters Degree in Nursing Science. “I believe the role of a registered nurse in a recovery center is vital. Offering the patient physical care, education, guidance and resources in the initial process of alcohol and substance abuse rehabilitation is essential for a lifelong journey toward recovery”.
Earning her degree in nursing from Antelope Valley College in 2015, Maricella has been working as a registered nurse with the “Department of Corrections” for the past three years. Her passion for nursing and “recovery” has brought her to the First Responders First team where she has used her skills to make a difference in the lives of First Responders and their families. Maricella is currently furthering her education and will soon become a Nurse Practitioner!
“I have been clean and sober for over 10 years now and I am very grateful for my recovery journey. I seek to help our First Responders begin their own journey and find their path to recovery”. Mark is a certified RADT (Registered Drug and Alcohol Technician) and has completed his training in CPR, AED and first aid. He is currently working on his credentials to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor.
Ingrid learned to cook with her mother and grandmother. No matter what the dietary restrictions, she feeds the Residents at FRF like they're family too—because found family counts too.
Born on November 10th, 2010 in Hollywood, California, “Cutty” was destined for fame. His incredible good looks and his charismatic personality made him a natural for stardom. Today, “Cutty” serves as our official mascot and his profile has become the logo for First Responders First.