Engineers, teachers and 3D printer enthusiasts have come together to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line workers in the battle against COVID-19 on the Isle of Man.
The equipment is being made to supplement the PPE which the Isle of Man Government is sourcing from the UK and further afield on a regular basis – with the latest batch containing 65,000 masks delivered this week.
Projects have sprung into action in engineering facilities, classrooms, and homes with people using their expertise and equipment to provide Manx NHS staff with protective face visors.
The engineering community is already working with the Isle of Man Government on a project to convert snorkel masks into important breathing equipment for coronavirus patients. After this success, the Government requested engineers explore the manufacture of protective face visors, with seven companies taking on the challenge.
Now Crowdshield.im, a wider community initiative has formed, which includes engineers, businesses and 3D print enthusiasts with their own printers and is being co-ordinated by the Isle of Man Government.
Hundreds of masks have been made on the Island and are already in use by the NHS after being fed into the Isle of Man Government’s PPE hub at the National Sports Centre for distribution.
Dr Chris Till, Associate Medical Director for Patient Safety and a Consultant in Intensive Care, said:
‘I would like to thank everyone who has been making face visors to help protect frontline healthcare staff and stop the spread of COVID-19.
‘With the enthusiasm and hard work of so many individuals, groups, schools, institutions and local companies, the number of visors we have is at a sustainable level, at a time when world demand is so high. Our healthcare workers can feel safe thanks to the efforts of so many local people on the Isle of Man.’
Will Faulds, who runs the Apple Orphanage, is one of 35 different contributors helping under a community initiative. He said:
‘My business is closed for now but I wanted to use my skills and equipment to help our front line staff. It is really inspiring to see how so many different people are coming together to help.’
Hundreds of masks have also been produced in the Island’s secondary schools, including King Williams College, with teachers working alongside engineers to make visor parts on 3D printers and laser cutting machines.
This project is being led by Alison Skelding, Head of Design and Technology at Ramsey Grammar School, who is working with fellow heads of department and technicians to refine the masks’ designs.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said:
‘I’m extremely grateful for the commitment of our school staff. They are using their technical skills and design expertise to help the Isle of Man community in their time of need.’
Schools have also sourced materials and donated hundreds of pairs of safety goggles to the NHS.
David Ashford MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care, said:
‘It is fantastic to see the Island’s community rallying together in such challenging times. This sort of spirit is what makes the Island a special place.’
The masks are approved for use by Clinicians and the design by the Isle of Man Government which is working closely with all producers to ensure they meet international standards and the standards set by the World Health Organisation.