Medical institutions recently reached out to the 3D printing community to help them overcome the shortfall in protection for frontline workers to continue their vital work in the coronavirus battle.
In Northumberland this call has been answered, with high tech kit and industry approved designs used to produce thousands of headbands which are attached to laser cut polypropylene sheets to create protective face shields.
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Our local community has once again really risen to the plate, this time by playing a key role in protecting frontline workers.
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“It is very heart-warming to know there is so much local help and support out there and that people across the county are working extremely hard to meet this critical challenge to make PPE, which could ultimately save lives.”
Teachers at some schools, closed because of the lockdown, have been heading back into the classroom to use the printing facilities to make the equipment destined for the NHS frontline. Other teachers have been helping to deliver it.
Help has come from Ashington Academy, Bedlington Academy, Bothal Primary School, Central Primary School, Queen Elizabeth High School, Berwick Academy, Meadowdale Academy, Hexham First School and Glendale Middle School along with Northumberland College.
Individuals have been playing their part too.
Michelle Williams who works for Northumberland County Council has a 3D printer at home. She and her husband have been producing mask straps which take the strain off the ears when workers are wearing face masks during their shifts.
Michelle said: “Although they are not PPE as such, they make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the staff who are wearing them.
“I have already delivered 450 straps to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington and am now working on the next batch.”
Jake Towers from Blyth has been using his eleven printers to make 260 face shields a day.
Red Engineering in Hexham which specialises in the offshore oil and gas and nuclear decommissioning industries, has distributed visors locally to QE Gateshead, The RVI, Hexham Hospital, Community Nursing Teams working across Northumberland and North Tyneside, the North East Ambulance Service and GP Surgeries in the North Tyne area.
Morpeth teacher, Helen McIntyre and her husband set about forming a Gofundme page #PPE4NE and Facebook Page @PPE for NE to source protective equipment.
She said: “We first raised £2,000 from kind donations made by people across the northeast. We spent this on 500 face visors (Covisor), 250 Category 3 coveralls, 200 face masks and eye protection.
“On top of this we have called local businesses to ask if they would be able donate PPE from their store room. From this we picked up 600 coveralls, 500 disposable aprons, 40 respirators, 2000 disposable gloves and 20 pairs of chemical gloves. This has been distributed to local carers, care homes, pharmacists, nurses, GPS and to Northumbria NHS Trust.”
Support has also been provided by Thompsons of Prudhoe, Lynemouth Power Station, The Iron Lady at Low Prudhoe and Egger UK.