Our Team

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

Dr. Malcolm Wehrle

Medical Doctor & Addiction Specialist

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

Psychiatrist specializing in PTSD & Addiction

Dr. Jason Chapman is a board-certified psychiatrist serving the Los Angeles area since 2013. He is also 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 settled in Southern California after his service in the United States Marine Corps. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton as an Infantry Rifleman with the 2nd Battalion/1st Marine Division and deployed to the Persian Gulf before embarking on his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. He then worked as a clinical trials research associate at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA while preparing for his medical training. Dr. Chapman attended medical school at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California and went on to complete his internship and residency in psychiatry at UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research in Fresno, California. Dr. Chapman returned to Los Angeles and has nearly a decade of experience working alongside first responders and providing psychiatric care to incarcerated individuals, preparing forensic court reports and providing expert witness testimony as needed. Several years ago, Dr. Chapman started his private practice providing psychiatric assessments and care for patients admitted into residential treatment facilities. He believes that medication plays a small, but important, role in recovery and offers a holistic philosophy to treatment with a minimalist approach to prescribing psychotropic medication. Dr. Chapman devotes a great deal of time in his assessments to the informed consent process. He believes that thoroughly educating his patients on medication alternatives and potential risks vs benefits of treatment fosters a greater trust and collaboration between physician and patient. 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, empathy and collegiality have made him a favorite amongst his patients and colleagues. He enjoys supporting veterans and traveling with his family when he is not taking in hours of “wind-therapy” on his 2016 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.

Care Jo Vaughan

Ambassador & Executive Director

“More First Responders take their own lives than die in the line of duty”. This statement forever altered Care’s life and sparked her passion to institute change in the way PTSD, PTSI and addiction in the First Responder community is viewed and handled. “Every day these heroes give their best to us, even at the cost of their own lives. It is our turn to give back to them.” As “First Responders First” Ambassador and Director of Public Relations and Outreach, she advocates for assistance and support in the lives of these heroes and their families. Her outreach includes all departments and modalities in the First Responder community as well as in the political arena. Care is the former Mayor of Lake Hughes, California. She is a credentialed Legal Assistant as well as a published author of two books, various short stories, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Her experience includes over 15 years in the hospitality and entertainment business including serving as personal assistant to a major television and film personality.

Stan Sorenson

Lead Therapist

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.

Greg Maxwell

First Responder, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

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.

Ingrid Muniz

In-house Chef

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. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse interdum vel nisl nec scelerisque. Mauris finibus risus eget turpis iaculis mattis. Nunc tempor elementum turpis, eget fermentum ex dignissim non. Praesent vitae dapibus tellus. Phasellus pulvinar in libero eget fermentum. Nullam a justo non elit malesuada tincidunt sit amet ut tortor. Proin quam quam, bibendum eu interdum vitae, venenatis mattis lacus. Aliquam dolor enim, imperdiet tristique cursus et, consequat at est. Proin vitae placerat orci, quis scelerisque elit. Sed at vehicula mauris. Aliquam posuere mattis turpis, ut vehicula libero consectetur eget. Nunc sapien felis, feugiat sed ex non, finibus lacinia lorem. In ut sem sapien. Etiam quis posuere lorem. Integer vitae euismod dui. Nullam vitae ex in metus vulputate accumsan imperdiet at elit. Praesent hendrerit eros non turpis tempor dictum. Ut non aliquet dolor. Donec ullamcorper lorem et auctor euismod. Curabitur vitae elit sed nunc dapibus viverra ac vel elit. Proin pellentesque, nunc vel malesuada dignissim, nisl elit consectetur velit, a ultrices metus metus a tellus. Suspendisse sit amet mollis nulla. Aenean tristique libero lacus, vel pulvinar metus fermentum id.

Austin Gillespie

Director of Admissions

Austin comes to First Responders First with several years of experience in the recovery industry. As Admissions Director, Austin will oversee the entire admissions process. From your initial contact with FRF, to coordinating and arranging your transportation to and from our facility and even assisting with insurance verification, Austin handles it all. He will work with your family and loved ones to insure the process of reaching out and receiving help is as easy and smooth as possible.

Wendy Colocho

Registered Nurse

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”.

Maricella Ramirez

Registered Nurse

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!

Mark Hellsund

Administrative Assistant & Lean Technician

“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.

Cutty

First Responders First Mascot

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.

Call (888) 252-5767