DOWNINGTOWN, PA — Administrators at the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) rallied to support first responders in their fight against coronavirus (COVID-19). To help front-line healthcare professionals protect themselves against COVID-19, TCHS donated and distributed masks, gowns, gloves and cleaning supplies to the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Chester County Hospital and the Malvern Fire Company.
TCHS principals Dr. Frank McKnight, Joe Fullerton and Ron Wilson all began to mobilize maintenance and staff teams at their buildings to gather, pack and distribute the supplies while practicing social distancing. In total, TCHS was able to donate over 20,000 gloves, 114 gallons of bleach, 13,440 disinfectant wipes, 429 face masks, 40 N95 masks and 200 gowns.
Dr. Kirk Williard, director of Career, Technical and Customized Education at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), felt that TCHS had a responsibility to support first responders and healthcare professionals across the county. “For over 50 years, we have been preparing future healthcare professionals, some of whom are on the frontlines of this right now after having gone through our program. We felt it was important to continue that support and help make sure they have the supplies they desperately need to keep themselves safe as they keep all of us safe,” said Williard.
Andrea Vaughn, project manager of TCHS School to Careers programs, believes that these donations reinforce the strong sense of community within Chester County. “Emergency responders and hospital staff are of paramount importance to the safety and well-being of the entire county. We partner with many first responder and healthcare organizations to help provide our students with career experience. These groups do so much to keep us safe and support our students, now it is our turn to help them.”
In addition to donating personal protective equipment, TCHS instructor Charles Sanders, who teaches both the Electromechanical Engineering Technology and the Precision CNC Machining programs at TCHS Pickering Campus, has found a way to give back while helping his students continue their education. Sanders, who has both acquaintances and colleagues who are first responders and healthcare professionals, wanted to find a way to do what he could to help.
An issue many first responders and healthcare professionals are experiencing is the discomfort of face mask straps. In response, Sanders decided to convert space in his home to utilize an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer to construct “ear savers,” which is a plastic band that attaches to face masks and loops around the back of the neck to relieve pressure on the ears. The ear savers are made out of PLA (polylactic acid), using free online design templates. In addition, Sanders has been using a programmable laser cutter to produce masks, which he has been donating, along with the ear savers, to first responders and healthcare professionals.
In addition, Sanders has been working with his students to find ways to make the process faster and more efficient. “Students in both my engineering and CNC machining programs spend time learning about 3D printing. This was an opportunity for me to show them how knowledge can be used to help people and make a difference, especially during uncertain times when innovation and creativity are essential. It has been a great opportunity to see their enthusiasm, hear their ideas and collaborate with them to help those who are working hard to keep us all safe,” said Sanders.
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