Diane Peterson has been the Executive Director for the Alaska Police & Fire Chaplains for the past 15 years, serving with those who serve by providing emotional support on site with other First Responders. During tragedy, this involves taking the grieving family of a victim off-scene to help them, allowing the other departments to do their job without the added weight of emotional stress.
“We show up on scene, step aside with the family, and walk them through the process; what the police are going to do next, who is going to ask them what questions, what resources are available to them once we leave, etc.” This supports the family but also the other First Responders, Diane says, “There is no way that what the First Responders do does not impact them as individuals. If we can help keep them mentally fresh, if we can be that asset to them by taking care of the family, then I would consider our agency successful.”
Diane was inspired to become a Chaplain when she met founder Bert McQueen through the loss of her own husband. She had always been the calm in the storm during crisis situations in her own family, so she was naturally drawn to being a grounding presence and an advocate for those experiencing tragedy and other First Responders.
“It is hard to think during tragedy. We are the mediators.” In speaking about what keeps her going as a Chaplain, Diane says, “There is an intimate space created by standing in tragedy with somebody, holding up that beacon of hope that we’re going to get through this.”