DURHAM, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has provided an investment of $500,000 to the NC Firefighters Fund to help improve access to care and make communities safer in North Carolina.

As a continuation of Blue Cross NC’s commitment to rural North Carolina, $250,000 of the investment will support under-funded rural fire departments. Many of North Carolina’s 887 volunteer fire departments serve rural communities. This investment will assist volunteer fire and rescue departments to purchase quality equipment and supplies to improve operation safety and efficiency.

Due to increasingly stressful work environments, Occupational Health & Safety reports that PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse are the top behavioral health issues firefighters face. Prioritizing whole person care, $250,000 of Blue Cross NC’s investment will support several behavioral health initiatives, including awareness and selfcare programs and the creation of firefighter peer support groups. This investment will focus on assisting volunteer firefighters that do not have access to employer programs offered by large departments.

“First responders are essential to the health and well-being of North Carolina,” said Dr. Tunde Sotunde, President and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “We must equip those first responders with the resources they need to continue serving our communities, from life-saving medicines to support for their own physical, mental and emotional health – needs that are particularly acute in rural regions of our state.”   

On Nov. 12 during the UNC men’s basketball game halftime, Dr. Tunde Sotunde and other Blue Cross NC representatives presented the investment to the NCSFA. Blue Cross NC also provided over 100 tickets to firefighters across the state and recognized all first responders in attendance during the presentation at the Dean Smith Center.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Blue Cross NC,” said Tommy Cole, President of NC Firefighters Fund. “This support provides critical assistance to fire departments across our state and the first responders who serve in our communities.”

To learn more about Blue Cross NC’s commitment to behavioral health needs, please visit www.bluecrossnc.com/members/behavioral-health.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is committed to making health care better, simpler and more affordable. We have been driving better health in North Carolina since 1933, working to tackle our communities’ greatest health challenges. Blue Cross NC serves its customers and communities of more than 4.2 million members, including approximately 1.1 million on behalf of other Blue Plans. Blue Cross NC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at www.bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

About North Carolina State Firefighters Association:

The North Carolina State Firefighters Association (NCSFA) is a membership organization providing advocacy, representation and administration of financial benefits to over 53,000 volunteer and career firefighters in North Carolina. The North Carolina Firefighters Fund assists as the nonprofit arm of the NCSFA, acting to enhance the wellness, education and support of the State’s firefighters.