During the last week of March local hospital medical professionals and administrators reached out to a group of teachers, community organizations, designers, engineers, manufacturers, and doctors to come together to brainstorm the possibility of designing and producing Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) for local hospitals. They hoped for a local solution, as they waited on delivery of medical supplies to be shipped into the region.
SOESD, Talent Maker City Programs Director Allison French and CTE Regional Coordinator Brian Robin were tasked to help with this work. The two called upon regional CTE high school students who have been trained in Computer Aided Design (CAD) experience to help. The students are currently working with high school CTE teachers in conjunction with on a “Student Skunks Works group” that interacts with a larger group in the community.
The team is organized using the Slack messaging platform where separate channels focus conversations for each product in need of support. The initial needs were face shields, n95 masks, iso masks, iso gowns, and ventilator manifolds. The group chose team leads to begin each effort, and within 24 hours, 3D printers around the valley were ramping up production of prototypes. Parts were delivered to doctors the same day, and immediate approvals have allowed face shields to begin production.
The group sourced a local manufacturer, Proto Mold Manufacturing based in Central Point to start producing face shields for frontline medical personnel that are taking samples from suspected COVID19 patients, and those that have already been admitted for care.
The Skunk Works group, including Alison French, RCC staff, and high school staff from both North Medford High School and Grants Pass High School, are working on other designs as well. They are prototyping ventilator/respirator manifolds that would allow a single respirator to support multiple patients at a time.
Other local manufacturers, such as Erickson Aircrane and Care Stream, are also working with members of the Skunk Works Team to provide resources and connections to produce, and source hand sanitizer, N95 masks, gloves, and medical gowns locally.
OIT and Sky Lakes Medical – in Klamath County- are also collaborating with the group in Jackson and Josephine Counties, to help to provide help to hospitals in Klamath County.
“The full force of Southern Oregon Geeks, Nerds, and Doctors aren’t cowering in our homes waiting for this to blow over. We’re fighting back,” says French.
For students who have a 3D printer and are wanting to participate, visit www.talentmakercity.org/covid
“The most recent vetted and approved files are posted there along with drop off locations of completed the shields. They can sign up to participate. We’d love their help!” says French.
Read recent Herald and News and Mail Tribune articles featuring the work that the SOESD group has been a part of.