HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders HEART 9/11 is a team of First Responders (members of the FDNY, NYPD, PAPD) and NYC Building Trades volunteers – who bonded while working  together after 9/11 and continued to utilize their experience and skills by volunteering in communities affected by a disaster. Since 2007, HEART 9/11 has deployed thousands of expertly trained and skilled volunteers on 120 missions in the United States and abroad.

The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine (BHI) at Mass. General Hospital was founded by mind-body medicine pioneer Dr. Herbert Benson – Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI), and Mind-Body Medicine Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. BHI’s research-proven and copyrighted Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) program helps patients develop the self-care tools they need to reduce stress, regain a sense of control, reduce medical symptoms and enhance their quality of life.

HEART 9/11, in collaboration with Benson-Henry Institute, wish to share the hard-learned lessons from 9/11 and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School with our brothers and sisters who now face similar challenges responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Steven Southwick, MD, Yale University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, PTSD, and Resilience, consults on all research and aspects of the HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders.

As a result of these collaborative efforts of academia, science and the hard-learned lessons of frontline responders grew the HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders. This program recognizes the importance of the scientific evidence-based SMART model and the unique abilities of the 9/11 and Sandy Hook shooting responders as messengers to a very insulated responder population.

First responders are under a tremendous amount of stress often mismanaged, leading to drug/alcohol abuse, relationship issues, divorce, financial hardships, physical health issues, lost time at work, and unfortunately, high suicide rates. The

HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders utilizes the three core components of the BHI SMART Program – Relaxation Response, Stress Awareness, and Adaptive Strategies to develop resiliency.

Responders will be instructed in the basic scientific evidence regarding the mind and body relationships. Responders will begin to appreciate the science behind the biology of thought and the emotions that they produce. They will learn to counteract the negative consequences of the stress response by learning disciplines of the relaxation response and their ability to restructure their responses to stressful situations cognitively.

Beyond these core principles of the HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders, the trainees will also have a fuller appreciation for proper nutrition, humor, creativity, empathy, and exercise.

HEART 9/11 sees three basic instructive categories – (1) responders with chronic stress – reactive, (2) responders suffering from acute incident stress – reactive, (3) training for police/fire/ems recruits – proactive. HEART 9/11 instructors believe that these programs are best delivered in person; however, they can be made available remotely/virtually.

2-hour Introductory Program

Responders will be exposed to the basic tenets of the HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders by briefly touching on each of the eight core modules of our program

Program delivered to hundreds of CT first responders at Peer to Peer workshops

Program has been recognized by the CT State Law Enforcement Training Commission

Over 1,000 CT law enforcement members have received training


8 Module 16 hour Program

In-depth analysis of the mind-body HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders

Train the Trainer

Academy training

Acute incident response training


4 Module 8 hour Veteran Responder Program

Modified HEART 9/11 SMART Program for First Responders with exposure to all eight modules in a more condensed format Training can be adapted for veteran chronic stress situations and supervisor training

Dr. Gregory Fricchione, MD, Harvard Medical School Mind-Body Medicine
Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Steven Southwick, MD, Yale University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry,
PTSD and Resilience
Dr. John Denninger, MD, Ph.D., Director of Research, BHI
Dr. Louisa Sylvia, Ph.D., Director of Health and Wellness at the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program
Lt. William Keegan, PAPD Night Commander 9/11 Rescue Recovery (Retired)
Lt. Richard Robinson/ Sgt. Scott Ruszczyk
Newtown, CT PD Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Lt. Angelo Sacco, FDNY, Licensed Clinical Social Worker-NYS
Lt. Drew Kane, Program Director, FDNY-CSU Addiction Treatment Program,
Licensed Master Social Worker-NYS
Lt. Owen McCaffrey, NYPD ESU 9/11 Rescue Recovery (Retired)
Assistant Chief Rebeca Garcia, Bridgeport CT PD
Sgt. Amity LaFantano, Danbury CT PD
Donna Lamonaco, Founder of the NJ State Police Survivors of the Triangle

Taking care of our own - sharing the hard learned lessons of our 9/11 experience.