SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Suffolk Fire Department is working with the city library to use their 3D printer to create protective masks for first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes as a national shortage of personal protective gear (PPE) increases the risk for medical staff and first responders to be exposed to COVID-19 when treating sick patients.

“This has become such a problem, in fact, that earlier today Suffolk Fire and Rescue and Suffolk Police asked the community for assistance with donations for much needed unused PPE items,” city officials wrote in a news release.

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EMS Capt. Ray Willet approached the Suffolk Library’s leadership team about using their 3D printer to create face shields for first responders to protect them from being exposed to COVID-19.

“Using design files, library staff printed the part that goes around the head and on the bottom of the shield. Capt. Willet handled the face shield part by using laminator sheets and the strap on the back by using Velcro,” a city press release explained.

The goal is to make 200 of these masks to use as PPE. The Suffolk Library is buying more 3D printers to help with the efforts, and Suffolk Fire and Rescue workers will assemble the masks and distribute them for use in the field.

Suffolk first responders are taking precautions when responding to emergency calls to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.

  • Patients are provided surgical masks during assessment and transportation
  • Patients are asked to exit their homes for assessment, when possible
  • First responders may increase the level of PPE they use depending on health evaluations during patient interviews

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