“Volunteering not only provides personal satisfaction but I think it’s also a good example of how you can do things in your life to reach certain balances,” said Min, who has logged more than 6,000 volunteer hours as an EMT.
Saturday nights are anything but typical for William Min , general counsel and executive vice president for the risk and business analytics division of RELX, which includes LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Reed Business Information.
Every other Saturday at 11 p.m., Min begins his eight-hour shift as a volunteer emergency medical technician crew chief for the Westport Emergency Medical Service in Connecticut. He typically works in Atlanta during the week and returns on the weekends to Westport, where his family lives. He’s been doing this for more than 21 years and has racked up more than 6,000 hours on the ambulance.
In 2016, Min was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer service, which has changed significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, when he goes out on emergency calls, he wears personal protective equipment, including an N95 face mask, goggles, gloves and a face shield. He asks patients a list of screening questions to determine whether they might be positive for COVID-19. And, most of the time, he assumes that they’re positive anyway. Better to be safe.
Min, who also has served as an in-house lawyer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., Live Nation Entertainment, Western Union Co. and the Sara Lee Corp., spoke Monday with Corporate Counsel about his time on the ambulance and how it has affected his approach to leading a legal department. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Corporate Counsel: Talk with me about the volunteer work you’ve been doing during the coronavirus pandemic?
William Min: Typically, these days, as you can imagine, there are a lot of protocols we have to implement to ensure the safety of our crew and patients. It is very different from many of the situations that I’ve encountered from the past 21 years of doing this volunteer work. But it’s also rewarding to be able to continue to give back to the community and work in a way that gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can help out in a volunteer capacity.
CC: What percentage of the calls that you’re going on now involve potential COVID patients?
WM: It’s actually hard to say, because the amount of actual testing that happens is not covering all of the population. To a large extent, even for those patients who have indicated that they have not had exposure to the virus, we still treat almost all of our patients as though they are carriers of the virus, just to make sure that we’re taking the appropriate precautions. All of the PPE [personal protective equipment] that we have to don is done on almost all of our calls.
CC: Do you have an adequate supply of PPE?
WM: Fortunately in Westport we have been able to get the adequate supplies for our crew members. We’ve also changed some of our protocols to try to minimize the members of our crew who have actual exposure to the patient as well. Whereas a typical shift would have a crew chief, paramedic and two EMTs as a fully staffed crew for the ambulance shift, these days, if we can cut back on the number of folks who have to provide direct treatment during the call, then we’ll try to follow those protocols as well. Right now, we do have adequate PPE. I guess one of the big questions is how long the situation continues. As of this week, it’s fine, but as the circumstances evolve, that’s always a moving target as well.
Fortunately, to my knowledge, none of our crew members have come down positive for COVID-19 at this point. So I think the protocols that we’ve implemented seem to have been addressing the risks to our staff appropriately.
CC: Thinking back about all the time you’ve been doing this, are there any noteworthy stories that you can share about your volunteer service?
WM: To a large extent, a lot of my responsibility is to provide a level of care so that when we transfer our patient over to the hospital hopefully we’ve improved the situation and helped that person get through the particular crisis that they’ve been on. But once we get to the hospital I really don’t know what the long-term outcome is going to be. One of the best events that I remember was a Christmas Eve call. I responded with one of the paramedics, and it was a cardiac arrest call. The woman was at home and her companion was attempting to do CPR. We got there and were able to resuscitate the patient so she had a heart rhythm when we transported her to the hospital. Probably about three months later I received a thank you note at headquarters. She explained that she made a full recovery. She was an elementary school teacher and wanted us to know that everything turned out really well. It was nice to see that you helped someone in a meaningful way, especially folks who are able to continue contributing to their lives and helping the kids at an elementary school as a teacher.
Things like that remind me how important it is for the type of work that I do. It’s also a nice reminder for me personally to hit my reset button—to remind myself periodically what the real priorities in life are. For lawyers working in law firms or in-house, we get into our routines with our businesses. For me, one of the big reasons why I continue to do this is so I have that opportunity to interact with folks in a capacity that is definitely different than my typical day-to-day work life.
CC: What was it that motivated you initially to volunteer with EMT services?
WM: I had been living in the community for a few years and there was an ad in the local paper that they were starting an EMT class. I thought it was important to give back and so I signed up to take the training class. For me, I think part of what’s important is for folks to be able to contribute back in a meaningful way. Volunteering not only provides personal satisfaction but I think it’s also a good example of how you can do things in your life to reach certain balances.
CC: Has your experience as an EMT affected how you approach your role as general counsel?
WM: As the COVID-19 situation was evolving in our offices and we were making decisions on how to safeguard our employees and decisions regarding things like office closures and such, I was able to contribute my knowledge as far as some of the protocols and guidance coming out through my [EMT] service as part of our conversations as we were thinking through our various steps at the office. Hopefully there was a benefit to my knowledge on the health side.