The novel COVID-19 pandemic has more than one million people infected all around the world, and the brutal effects of it are experienced most intensely by the healthcare workers. The traces of their long shifts can be seen through their faces, as once it did in China.
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The constant need to wear protective surgical masks bruise and cut the faces of medical staff, who are already suffering the consequences of limited supplies and overflowed hospitals, adding to their discomfort greatly.
In order to alleviate the pain caused by surgical masks, a hospital in Canada issued a call to anyone who could help to alleviate recently. Thankfully, a design modified by Ken Lord and a Boy Scout named Quinn Callander came to their and thousands of others' rescue.
Printing ear guards for healthcare workers
The Boy Scout-turned-entrepreneur printed numerous "ear guards" that are actually freely available to anyone with a 3D printer.
The design connects the straps from the mask and elevates them to the back of the head. This way they no longer rub against the wearer’s ears and head in a painful way.
After finding the design on Thingiverse, he printed the designs, which went viral after his mom shared it on Facebook.
Her post read, “Quinn answered a request from the local hospitals for help with creating more ‘ear guards’ to help take the pressure off health care workers' ears from wearing masks all day. He got busy on his 3D printer and has been turning out dozens of ear guards to donate.”
You can print your own too!
Surprised and moved by the amount of support the project got on Facebook, Quinn's mom shared the 3D printing file he used.
The design on Thingiverse was shared by Ken Lord, who actually modified a design that was shared by someone else in the first place.
Now, thanks to people sharing designs like this anyone can get their 3D printer running and copy the design to produce their own ear guards to help their local hospitals.
Ken Lord has currently produced 1,675 ear guards, and in a mail he sent to Interesting Engineering, he wrote, "I'm just one of many people contributing to the effort. The volunteer group I'm contributing to (the Vancouver Makers for Emergency Response and Support, or VMERS) has delivered around 4,000 of them. They have volunteers organizing requests, suppliers, and drivers."
Lord added, "I was just lucky to have my file linked in Quinn's amazingly viral Facebook post. Thanks to that my file has been downloaded around 35,000 times by people all over the world who are now making Ear Savers for their local healthcare workers."
VMERS, the volunteer group he contributes to, also has several other projects that are aimed to help healthcare providers. Their projects include face shields, bandanas, and caps with buttons as an alternative to the ear guards, and moreover, they are designing UV and Heat cabinets to sterilize masks.
People around the world are trying to do some good by helping themselves and each other. As Quinn's mother said on the Facebook post, “We need more volunteers to fire up their 3D printer and donate these ear guards to hospitals and medical professionals!”
In such trying times, the compassionate hearts of people all around the world are what keeps our communities running, and such stories never fail to inspire us. Go Boy Scouts!