Headbands for Healthcare Workers
Mesa Public School Engineering Teachers Meeting the Need Head On
June 2, 2020
This well-orchestrated project started with Randall Kirby, Mesa Public Schools Career and Technical Education Specialist identifying a need after his brother-in-law, a nurse specialist for Banner Desert Medical Center’s ICU in Mesa, gave him a heads up that Banner healthcare workers lacked adequate supplies of PPE as they prepared for the expected increase of COVID-19 patients. Healthcare workers used face shields over their masks to extend its use. The issue was that they didn’t keep a large supply of face shields in stock. Banner worked out a way to produce the clear plastic face shields but was unable to obtain the needed headband to attach the face shield. That’s when Mesa Public Schools headed in to help.
“We saw a need and realized it was something we could do,” Kirby said.
Kirby enlisted the help of Westwood engineering teacher, Tom Saxon, and Red Mountain engineering teacher, Shane Bycott They collected a majority of Mesa Public School’s 3D printers and supply of filament and relocated everything to the homes of these two teachers.
“Once a plan was in place to safely house the printers in our personal homes and steps were taken to keep everybody safe, the process started,” Bycott said.
After receiving a file from David Payne, a senior software developer at General Motors, giving them a head start, the printing began. The headbands were made of a Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic material curved to fit the forehead. Along the front of the plastic shield were points at the top and bottom where the headband could be connected to hold the shield in place and protect the healthcare worker’s face. Kirby, Saxon and Bycott kept cool heads and worked each day printing as many headbands as possible Each headband took about two hours to print.
“Every other day, they would get picked up for delivery to Desert Banner for use,” Bycott said. “I think we put together over a 1,000 masks for health care providers, and I would definitely say it felt good to help. ”
When additional hospitals were identified as having the same needs as Banner, Danny Fisher, Mesa Public Schools Director of Career and Technical Education, and Kirby met with other CTE directors in the valley to share the details of the project and asked each of them to reach out to their local hospitals to see if they could help in a similar way
“During the project, I had almost daily contact with Desert Banner. I was able to hear directly about the difference we were making Everyone at Desert Banner was so appreciative and grateful,” Kirby said. “I realized that our small contribution had an enormous impact on the safety of our frontline healthcare workers. They let me know that they never could have achieved this without the help from Mesa Public Schools. We are just happy we were able to help ”
In a time where personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply, the headbands created by Mesa Public Schools engineering teachers and face shields provided the necessary protection for healthcare workers and were able to be reused. Additionally, with the number of headbands and face shields made, Banner was able to distribute them out to other area hospitals outside of Mesa.
“It was good to be useful,” Saxon said. “It’s work worth doing.”