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Hanover Fire Captain Fred Freeman, who led a mobile health service to bring COVID-19 testing and other medical services to people’s homes, has received national recognition for his pandemic work with an honor from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
On May 26, Freeman was one of seven people to receive Profiles in COVID Courage awards for their service, during an online ceremony, Celebrating Courage, that was hosted by Jimmy Fallon and featured an awards presentation by Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg. He was honored for “putting the needs of the community above his own health and safety” in his efforts to help vulnerable residents who needed testing and other health services at home.
The ceremony featured a brief video about Freeman and the town of Hanover’s efforts to serve the public during the pandemic. Freeman, who is also a registered nurse and paramedic, led the development of a mobile integrated health program to bring services directly to residents. In a partnership with South Shore Health System, Hanover paramedics were giving residents COVID tests in their homes and bringing the swabs to be analyzed at South Shore Health in Weymouth.
In a separate effort, the department also built a COVID testing system for staff and students in the town’s public schools.
“I feel really proud of what we did here in Hanover,” Freeman said during the video presentation. “It wasn’t just the right thing. It’s our honor and our privilege to serve them.”
Fire Chief Jeffrey Blanchard said Freeman “basically ended up heading a department that we’d never had before, which is this mobile integrated health, and we had to take a number of different town departments and get them to work together in order to make this happen.”
The Kennedy Library Foundation traditionally gives a Profile in Courage Award each May to a public official who has demonstrated politically courageous leadership. This year’s recipient was former Massachusetts governor and current U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who broke with his Republican colleagues and voted to convict then-President Donald Trump during his 2020 impeachment trial.
This year, the foundation decided to also recognize seven individuals who made sacrifices and took risks in helping the sick and vulnerable and providing critical services during the pandemic. Chosen from thousands of nominations, the group includes first responders, private citizens and public officials from around the country, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
As bad as the worldwide pandemic has been, Schlossberg said, “We see a silver lining, and the COVID Courage award celebrates the heroes of this pandemic whose compassion and bravery inspire us.”
Hanover Town Manager Joseph Colangelo called Freeman a “genuinely nice guy” whose humble personality made it easy for people to rally around him and the mobile integrated health service.
“It’s one thing to dream up and see the vision of this program,” Colangelo said, “and it’s another thing to, every day, for over a year, to carry it out day after day through some of the most challenging times that we’ve ever had, and to do it with such grace and humility and poise.”