First Responders Children’s Foundation announces mental & behavioral health program for first responders & their families

New York, NY (May 12th, 2021) – Today, First Responders Children’s Foundation announced a commitment to the mental health and well-being of America’s first responders and their families with the launch of a Mental & Behavioral Health Program in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, the pandemic recovery, and the 20-year commemoration of 9/11.

The announcement was made at The FDNY Fire Zone and in attendance were representatives from first responder agencies, Foundations and non-profits including;

Daniel Nigro, FDNY Commissioner
David Shmerler, Director of Counseling Service Unit at FDNY
Kenneth Quick, NYPD Deputy Inspector, Commanding Officer of the Office of Deputy Commis-
sioner, Employee Relations
Alfred R. Kahn, Founder & Chairman, First Responders Children’s Foundation
Jillian Crane, President, First Responders Children’s Foundation
Scott Perrin, Executive Director, First Responders Children’s Foundation
Susan L. Birnbaum, President & CEO, NYC Police Foundation
Stephen L. Ruzow, Chairman, FDNY Foundation
Jean O’Shea, Executive Director, FDNY Foundation
Nancy Carbone, Executive Director, Friends of Firefighters

In 2020 the First Responders Children’s Foundation helped 232,000 first responder families through its many programs and distributed $1.5 million in support of mental health. At today’s press conference Jillian Crane, President of First Responders Children’s Foundation, an nounced the launch of the Mental & Behavioral Health Program by awarding $100,000 to first responder programs, including:

  • FDNY Foundation: Peer-to-peer counseling, especially for EMTs
  • NYC Police Foundation: The build-out of the NYPD yoga studio and a new Health and Wellness Welcome Center
  • Friends of Firefighters: Clinical and wellness support to firefighter families
  • 911 At Ease International: Trauma-informed counseling for first responders in California, Idaho, Minnesota and the Navajo Nation

First responders are taxed like never before—they are suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and stress. The rates of PTSD and depression within police agencies are five times higher than that of the civilian population. The PTSD rate for firefighters and EMTs is twice as high as that of the civilian population. The CDC has reported that first responders may be at an elevated risk for suicide because of the environments in which they work, their culture, and both occupational and personal stress. Law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty and EMS providers are 1.39 times more likely to die by suicide than the public. reports that this year alone, 57 officers have been lost to suicide.

“For the past year and a half, under the most anxiety-provoking and life-threatening circumstances, first responders including EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, police, nurses and medical personnel have been putting their lives on the line for the communities they serve,” said Jillian Crane, President of First Responders Children’s Foundation. “The mental health and well-being of these courageous individuals and their children is a focus for us at First Responders Children’s Foundation.”

There is a critical need for more mental health support specific to the needs of first responder professions. Now more than ever during COVID and leading up to the 20th Anniversary of 9/11— first responders and their families need to have access to mental and behavioral health programs and initiatives, including resources that address the shame and stigma of receiving services.

“Last year was painful for everyone and for our members they responded to more calls per day than ever before during the worst moments of this pandemic. They have had to break the bad news to so many families that their loved ones had died and they did that difficult, brave and noble work while concerned for their own help and the health of their families,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “To have First Responders Children’s Foundation stepping up to helping our members and helping expand services is just a wonderful act of generosity. On behalf of all of us, thank you to First Responders Children’s Foundation.”

The First Responders Children’s Foundation Mental & Behavioral Health Program represents a commitment to support agencies and organizations that provide much-needed support to first responder families. The Foundation will also provide grants on a case-by-case basis to first responders and their children needing mental health services they otherwise could not afford.

First Responders Children’s Foundation is inviting individuals and companies to donate and help raise the $500,000 needed to continue to support these programs.

Donations can be made by visiting

Press Conference
L to R: Stephen Ruzow, Jean O’Shea, Nancy Carbone, Jillian Crane, Susan Birnbaum, Daniel Nigro (behind Susan), Kenneth Quick, David Shmerler, Al Kahn
Jillian Crane
Jillian Crane
Al Kahn
Al Kahn
L to R: Natalie Riegel, Joanna Black, Jillian Crane, FDNY Jean O'Shea, Friends of Firefighters Nancy Carbone, Scott Perrin
L to R: Natalie Riegel, Joanna Black, Jillian Crane, FDNY Jean O’Shea, Friends of Firefighters Nancy Carbone, Scott Perrin
Child and Firetruck
Child and Firetruck

Media Contact:
Joanna Black
Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships
(646) 912-2681

About First Responders Children’s Foundation

For 20 years, First Responders Children’s Foundation has been awarding college scholarships to the children of first responder parents who have been injured or lost in the line of duty. The Foundation also awards grants to families enduring significant financial hardship and supports educational activities and programs created by first responder organizations to benefit children or the communities in which they live.

The First Responders Children’s Foundation Emergency Response Fund provides financial hardship grants, PPE, and hotel accommodations to first responders on the front lines of the pandemic. The Foundation also pays for funerals of first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. More information about First Responders Children’s Foundation is available at Follow First Responders Children’s Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @1stRCF.

Next / Previous