To provide support, education, and resources for NJ First Responders and their families struggling with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Vicarious Trauma, Depression, Anxiety and other related issues.
The Birth of Mission Hope NJ
Eric and Victoria Hicken have personally worked with the stress and unique pressures of a life that revolved around their careers in Emergency Services and Nursing. Eric has prior military service in the US Army / Air Force, and has been involved in EMS for over 30 years. They would often discuss the lack of ongoing resources for First Responders dealing with work related stress and trauma. Victoria's father was a two tour Vietnam Veteran with PTSD, and she felt strongly that First Responders should be provided similar resources and treatment also. "Trauma is trauma, and our First Responders are spending a lifetime in traumatic and life threatening environments". Yet, there was nothing for them. Acutely aware of the risk for suicide in the Veteran population 2nd to PTSD, they sought data on that for First Responders with no success. In 2012 First Responder suicide hit very close to their hearts and they became convinced something must be done. In 2014 they joined in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Overnight Walk in Philadelphia; raised over $2000.00 for suicide prevention & awareness, and met many people who lost First Responder loved ones to suicide. Upon sharing ideas and stories with those affected by suicide it became painfully clear that services were needed at the grassroots level and Mission Hope NJ was born. "We needed to bring resources, education, and support directly to the First Responder Community". In 2016 Mission Hope NJ officially became a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, and outreach became our first priority.
A career in Emergency Services is filled with intense stress, daily exposure to life's emotionally toxic events, critical incidents, and threats to one's personal safety. This unique combination of stressors can lead to difficulties with home life, interpersonal conflicts, and increases a First Responder's risk for mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Board of Director
Victoria is a New Jersey Registered Nurse with a background in Emergency Nursing, and Medical Command for Virtua’s MICU program. She is an AHA Certified Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support Instructor, Program Developer for Mission Hope NJ. Victoria embraces education as a vital tool in the fight to reduce stigma relating to mental health issues within the EMS community. She provides mental health & wellness educational programs to agencies throughout New Jersey, peer support, and has lectured at the New Jersey Statewide Conference on EMS.
Ian Eddy, EMT
Social Media, Advocate, Educator
Ian is a Firefighter/EMT and has been working in emergency services since 2008. His passion for mental health education in the first responder community stems from his own personal experiences. Ian currently serves at several organizations in Gloucester County.
Eric is a Paramedic and has been working in the emergency services for over 30 years. He is passionate about improving mental health and wellness in the Emergency Responder community. Eric continues to work as a Paramedic in the South Jersey area.
Tim has been involved in EMS for over 25 years. His career began as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician, before advancing to the level of Flight Paramedic. He remains very active in EMS, working on several initiatives as well as teaching various EMS related programs. He received his Bachelors of Science degree with a concentration in EMS Management from George Washington University.
Jude Debaun, NREMT/P (Retired)
Prior to Jude's retirement in 2011 she spent 30 years in EMS, 25 of those as a Nationally Registered Paramedic, a major change from her previous career as a school teacher.
She was very active as an instructor in the School of Paramedicine for more than 15 years. For 2 years she held the position of Assistant Clinical Coordinator managing students during their field internship, evaluating students clinical competency, assisting them during clinical field rotation and their final examinations. Missing the bustle and activity of the emergency response Jude returned to the field where she precepted and mentor many students during their training and filed internship while continuing to assist in preparation for their final examination. For several years she enjoyed the roll as Coordinator for Virtua’s ACLS program, teaching PALS, CPR, and guest lecturing for EMT classes. Jude is now enjoying her retirement but still maintains close ties with the EMS community.
Andy Lovel, MICP, NREMT/P
Advocate and Educator
Andy has made outstanding prehospital care his priority for over 25 years, almost all as an active New Jersey Mobile Intensive Care Paramedic. He readily embraces customer service driven delivery of 9-1-1 response. When not busy overseeing the operation of the largest public EMS agency in New Jersey, you will find Andy in the back of an ambulance, providing cutting edge care to his patients.