Derek Williams – Top notch volunteer with ambition
Derek Williams, born and raised in Minnesota, began volunteering at Maple Grove Hospital at age 14 and developed an interest in medicine. Racing drones in his spare time, Derek, now 18, is finishing his freshman year at the University of Minnesota. Determined to go to medical school, he is studying neuroscience.
Desiring a more involved and exciting volunteer opportunity, he found an opening for a STAB Room Recorder at Hennepin Healthcare. The STAB room in the HCMC emergency department is where severely injured or sick patients are brought in. Medical teams are waiting for them, already notified by the ambulances or helicopters that are bringing them in. The STAB room is high energy, but not chaotic. Everyone has one job, and they do it. Multiple cases are frequently handled at once. Exploring the HCMC website, he was determined to be a part of this fascinating hospital.
One of the requirements for the STAB Room Recorder was a certain number of volunteer hours, which Derek did not have. Derek volunteered alongside the nurses in the general emergency department to build experience and hours. In addition, Derek stepped up as a volunteer program coordinator, which is more of an administrative job helping volunteers get ready to volunteer in the ED with applications, immunizations, etc. Most of these people are pre-med students or those taking a gap year. There is a retired ED doctor who volunteers, and Derek “can’t wait to meet her.”
“Once I had enough hours in, I became the STAB Room Recorder and kept my ED Coordinator job as well,” explains Derek. “I am in the STAB room Friday nights because I thought that would be a busy time for trauma.”
Derek’s STAB room duties are to record. “I record what happens and when. I get details from the EMS that bring in the patient – what happened, what was administered, any allergies if known, critical things like those. Then I record what happens to the patient in the STAB room. I record how long CPR has gone on, what medications are given and when, and things like that.” This information is important to have for post-patient care reports.
“I’ve seen miracles, and I’ve seen tragedy.” The most exciting thing Derek has seen is a Lucas device in action for the first time. He explains, “LUCAS gives the best CPR in the world. Unlike humans, it doesn’t get tired or slow down. A patient came in with a non-functioning heart, and the LUCAS gave such good compressions that the patient came back to consciousness from death.”
He continues, “The most amazing thing about HCMC is the people. The nurses, the doctors, and all team members. It’s such a tight and collaborative community. They are not just supportive of themselves but even of volunteers. In tragic cases, social workers and chaplains come in not just for the patients but for the staff as well.”
Another point Derek shared is how he is consistently surprised at staff, especially nurses, that he has interacted with the stories they share. “I am consistently surprised at the backgrounds of people. I’ve talked to those with military backgrounds, flight nurses, and traveling nurses. I’ve learned their paths to medicine; for example, one’s a veteran army medic whose served multiple tours.”
This summer, besides volunteering, Derek will continue his lab research at the U studying the epigenetic mechanisms of pain. He is also taking classes with Hennepin EMS to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He doesn’t slow down.