Keeping Up with the Krew: William

By: Courtney Holmes

William is no stranger to the word “deployment.” For years he served with the US Navy on multiple tours of duty. On his military deployment in Afghanistan from 2013 to 2014, he started to dream about finishing the nursing degree he had started years prior. One day he knew his time in the military would end, but William knew he would not be happy unless he was helping other people. For William, the best way he felt he could do that was in healthcare.

In 2015 he graduated from nursing school in Texas, entering a new career field he would never look back on. After graduation, he went to work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Working in the ICU is where he feels he belongs due to his passion for helping others in some of their worst moments. 

William also deems himself a teacher by nature with a constant urge to be a blessing to others. In 2019, he founded a school in his community called Uncharted Territory Solutions. It is based in Houston, Texas, offering entry-level healthcare classes to anyone in the local community. The school’s name was ironic, given what was ahead in 2020.

A few months into 2020, a friend told William about Krucial Rapid Response. As soon as he heard about the need for knowledgeable medical staff, he planned to leave to serve people, despite being a business owner and in school working towards his nurse practitioner license. 

During the first wave in 2020, he was one of the first people to get to New York. A few weeks into the New York deployment, William ended up deploying to Louisiana. William did not care where he needed to go as his purpose in coming with Krucial in the middle of a pandemic was just to help people. There was no time to establish a clear game plan while William was in New York. Everyone was trying to get to the hospital to help patients. Upon arriving in Louisiana, the setup was completely different. With disasters, every mission could be different with details changing daily at times, and William found that out firsthand.

“That was interesting. At first, nobody knew what was going on,” William said. “The left hand was telling the right to do something, and we were expecting this huge surge in Louisiana, but it never came.”

Every day was different on that Louisiana mission. Despite the lingering weight of the unknown pandemic, the Louisiana team started preparing. They met every day, preparing for an influx but also how we can keep staff safe and prepare for patients in a short amount of time.

One of the biggest issues the Krucial Krew identified as a concern in Louisiana was donning and duffing. Once this became clear to the team, what happened next would set up those deploying to future missions to not experience the same anxieties the team had upon arrival in Louisiana. 

William quickly became an infection control leader for Louisiana ground operations.

The operation formed an elite team of medical professionals to train everyone in clear donning and duffing guidelines and also created a standard of procedure for all those who would deploy in the future.

Donning and duffing is a healthcare worker’s process to safely apply and remove their PPE (personal protective equipment) before entering an isolation area. 

Before the COVID – 19 pandemic, PPE was primarily used to protect against certain infectious diseases in hospital settings, especially C. Diff. (Clostridium difficile), tuberculosis or specialty medications requiring Chemotherapy precautions. COVID – 19 required PPE usage at level healthcare workers were not doing prior. 

“We had to train people how to protect themselves first,” William said. “In the beginning, we didn’t know how COVID-19 was transmitting; this was a critical piece.” 

There may not have been as big of a surge in that first operation, but the Louisiana team’s work with donning and duffing policies to protect staff would make one of the most significant impacts on future operations. They were able to create handbooks during this season that were used in the future.

William was in Louisiana on that mission for two months. During that time, the schedule was still 60 – 72 hours a week, making it extremely difficult to leave. He experienced personal loss during this time by not being able to say goodbye to his cousin who passed away. As the Louisiana mission ended, William left to go home to his cousin’s funeral. Within two weeks, he hopped on a plane and headed to go serve Texas.

In Texas, he worked in a nursing home with Krucial. His military training, heart for helping others, and calm demeanor helped him have a profound impact on both patients and his co-workers. The Texas mission was far different from Louisiana, but it did not deter William from his focus on patient care. During one of the largest peaks of the pandemic in Texas, William was in the ICU fighting for patients as best as he could.

“Because of my military experience, everything slows down for me,” William said. “Where some people were panicking, I was able to come in and say, ‘Okay, the patient is coding, let’s do what we trained for.'”

His services spanned about eight months with Krucial Rapid Response. To him, any problem he faced had to be solution minded because there were people counting on him. His responsibilities did not become void with what little time he did have. During that period, he ran his school over the phone while he worked to finish his Nurse Practitioner license after working 12-14 hour shifts with a commute. 

His school grew through the pandemic. Uncharted Territory Solutions offers CPR classes, certified nurse training programs, BLS, ACLS, 1st AID, CPR, and AED training. The school is an authorized training provider of the American Heart Association, Red Cross, and Occupational and Health Administration, with experienced trainers hand-chosen by William. Many classes are online or hybrid to service whatever the student needs.

Today, William runs his school while also taking assignments to help COVID-19 patients in different capacities such as outpatient clinics and infusion centers. He also graduated from his nurse practitioner program on time. What an accomplishment!

Krucial Rapid Response is honored to have such kind-hearted and hard-working Krucial Krew members. Want to nominate someone to be featured? Please reach out to us at social_media@krucialrr.org.

"We had to train people how to protect themselves first. In the beginning, we didn't know how COVID-19 was transmitting; this was a critical piece."

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