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Babcock employees 3D-print vital PPE for frontline workers

May 6, 2020 – In this challenging time, it is inspiring to see those around us taking steps to support their communities and front line workers as we all try to do our part to support the fight against COVID-19. Within Babcock, we have seen this initiative come from many of our colleagues.

Glen Mountjoy, a Platform Systems Integration Group Manager, and his team have begun working with a local grassroots initiative established and run out of the Cowichan Valley in British Columbia called Project Draw Breath. The team of volunteers are working to produce 3D printed headbands, which will then be assembled into full face shields and distributed to those in need, including local hospitals, front line workers, elderly and at risk groups and indigenous communities.

Q: How did you hear about Project Draw Breath?

GM: I have a friend in the UK who I saw was producing PPE for the National Health Services, and it made me wonder if I could do anything to help in Canada. I read a local Cowichan newspaper and saw an article on Project Draw Breath with an email address to contact them. I decided to send them an email to see if they could use any engineering support. I learnt a little more about what they were doing and realized we had a 3D printer sitting in the office idle that we could potentially use. I made a suggestion to my manager which resulted in support from Babcock to help print PPE.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about the initiative?

GM: Project Draw Breath started around the time COVID-19 was becoming more of a known issue in Canada. It’s technical head is Dr. Richard Walton who has been supported by a number of volunteers around Vancouver Island. They mainly concentrate on the development of PPE solutions, including producing Face Shields, Ear Guards, Prototype N95 Masks and methods of sterilization. They supply to anyone in need in the local community, including hospitals, dentists and indigenous groups.

Q: How are you helping out?

GM: There is a team of three of us in Babcock; myself, Antony Osborne and Marc Charlebois. I initially started the effort and have been managing logistics, whilst Antony and Marc have been concentrating on 3D printing Face Shield head bands and other items. We delivered our first 25 Face Shield head bands this early this week and hope to deliver more in the coming weeks.

Q: What inspired you to get involved?

GM: Initially my friend in the UK supplying the NHS made the idea of helping seem much more realistic and simple. I realized I didn’t need to do anything grand or world changing to help people. Something simple like producing PPE or helping with someone’s groceries, or just thanking your delivery driver, makes a big difference to a person who is finding life a little tough at the moment. That was all I really wanted to do.

Q: Have you done anything else with the 3D printers?

GM: I had a doctor reach out to me and ask to produce a device to train doctors to do “cricothyroidotomy”. The procedure allows a tube to be directly inserted into the patients throat to facilitate ventilation if required. This indirectly assists with the worst case consequences of COVID-19. Antony has done some great work getting some produced, which I have handed off to Cowichan Hospital. I got some great feedback from the doctor, who as asked if we want to make more for the rest of the hospitals on Vancouver island.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

GM: I’m really thankful that Babcock allowed me to use their equipment and resources to help the project and also to Antony and Marc for stepping forward to offer their help.