Williston is hosting some of the state’s bravest first responders this week, welcoming them to town for the Professional Fire Fighters of North Dakota 2019 State Conference.
The conference is being held at the Grand Williston through Thursday, Aug. 15, culminating with the groups Charity Golf Tournament on Friday, Aug. 16. Darren Schimke, president of the organization, said the convention is a way for the state’s firefighters to gather together for fellowship and camaraderie, as well as a chance for the first responders to get to know their counterparts from all over the state.
The convention kicked off on Tuesday with a social hour at the Grand Williston, with Wednesday and Thursday packed with seminars and speakers that will cover a wide variety of topics that affect firefighters, such as work/life balance, behavioral health and dealing with PTSD. These workshops, said Chris Mahoney, are meant to showcase the importance of such topics and try to eliminate the stigma that can sometimes come with asking for assistance. Mahoney is the vice president of the organization, as well as the president of local chapter here in Williston.
“Behavioral health is a very important thing,” Mahoney told the Williston Herald. “It’s a well known issue, and this is bringing more light to it. We want to show that asking for help is not a bad thing. The education program’s are focused on behavioral health, noticing signs and helping to deal with PTSD, things of that nature.”
Speakers will be coming from the International Association of Firefighter’s Center of Excellence, which offers treatment for recovery from substance abuse, PTSD and other behavioral health issues. Mahoney said the Center has been open for a few years, and has been a tremendous help.
“It’s helped so many firefighters across the country.” Mahoney said.
After Wednesday and Thursday’s conference, members of the organization will be set up downtown on Main Street for Summer Nights on Main, relaxing and meeting with members of the public. On Friday, the Municipal Golf Course is hosting a Charity Golf Outing, with the money raised going towards the Center of Excellence. Registrations for the golf outing are still available, and can be done online at visitwilliston.com/calendar/ProfessionalFireFightersofND2019StateConference. The cost is $50 per team for 18 holes of golf.
For more information about the conference, contact Local 3743 President Chris Mahoney at 1-636-439-8668. For questions about the registration process, contact the Williston CVB at 1-701-774-9041.