A Robeson Community College instructor has earned recognition for his work in trauma services.
Eric Freeman, director of the Emergency Medical Science program, was awarded the Mike Law Award of Distinction on Feb. 11 at the 28th annual Trauma Symposium in Wilmington. Freeman received the award from New Hanover Regional Medical Center Trauma Services to recognize his passion and commitment to the care of trauma patients.
Robeson Community College has a long history of training emergency medical technicians, mostly through continuing education programs, but that history took a significantly accelerated turn in 2014 when the college began offering a two-year degree in emergency medical science. Flora Gail Lowry-Williams was the program director who initially worked to bring the two-year program to Robeson. When she retired in 2015, Freeman assumed the program director’s position to continue the work she started.
Freeman, who graduated from Western Carolina University in 2013 with a degree in Emergency Medical Science, also brought Toby Carter on board as clinical coordinator for Emergency Medical Science curriculum program at Robeson Community College. Nestor Rivera recently joined the team as a full-time clinical coordinator for continuing education offerings. Mikaila Chavis works part-time as an instructor for the program, which offers both continuing education to new and active emergency medical personnel, and the two-year curriculum for those who want to further their education.
Freeman has a long history as a first responder. He joined the Prospect Fire Department 1996 as a volunteer firefighter when he was junior in high school. Freeman proudly pointed out that his grandfather, Bill Moore, was a charter member of the department.
When he graduated from Purnell Swett High School in 1997, Freeman attended Pitt Community College on a baseball scholarship and majored in pre-liberal arts. He continued to volunteer with Prospect Fire Department when he was home in the summer. In 1999 he transferred to Methodist College on a baseball scholarship, where he studied until he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2001.
After pitching one year for the Royals’ Spokane, Washington minor league team, Freeman returned to Robeson County and went to work for Lumberton Fire Department in 2002. The department was in need of EMT’s and paramedics, so over the next six years Freeman attended Robeson Community College for his EMT and EMT Intermediate certification. He also earned paramedic certification at Fayetteville Tech and Critical Care Paramedic certification at Lenoir Community College during this time.
Freeman’s wife, Ashley, is a doctor, and when they moved to Florence to begin her medical residency, Freeman lived too far away to serve on the Lumberton Fire Department, so he took a job as a training director for a private ambulance company before joining McLeod Regional’s Critical Care Transport Team in 2009 as a critical care paramedic.
The family moved back to Robeson County in 2013 and Freeman was hired to start the EMT program at the Public Schools of Robeson County’s Career Center before he came to Robeson Community College to assist Lowry-Williams in starting the two-year EMS program here.
Freeman notes that the program has changed since he was a student at Robeson. The college now offers paramedic training on a regular basis and demand for EMS training has almost tripled. Freeman attributes these increases to increased demand in the job market and Robeson’s implementation of new technologies such as online training that have increased access.
“Paramedics no longer work only in the back of an ambulance. Now they can be found in doctors’ offices, hospitals, oil rigs, and industrial settings,” Freeman said. “Some paramedics even make home visits.”
He cited Campbell Soup and Mountaire Farms as local industries that have paramedics on site.
Freeman still volunteers with Prospect Fire Department. He and his wife live in Prospect with their children, Eli, Eleanor, and Asher. If you would like to talk with him about Emergency Medical Science opportunities, email him at [email protected] or call 910-272-3316.
Dennis Watts is the public information officer for Robeson Community College.