Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Helping the Front Lines of COVID-19

MLGW workers fight the coronavirus one medical face shield at a time 

Five 3-D printers hum and zig-zag a steady and constant pattern at Reuben Hull’s East Memphis home. All are churning out the same product: medical face shield frames. Three printers occupy a spare bedroom. One runs in the hallway and another in a garage workshop.

Among MLGW, Hull and Gerald Jameson are both making medical face shield frames for Midsouth Makers. Although he doesn’t have a 3-D printer, IT’s Steven A. Robbins buys rolls of plastic filament needed for the process.

Hull spends his days as a lead electric maintenance mechanic at MLGW. Jameson works in MLGW’s Gas Pressure Regulations Department. At night and on weekends, both are among an army of local volunteers making medical face mask frames and shields. 

“We’ve got something to fight for,” Hull said as he monitored his machines and checked on their progress. “I don’t want innocent people to die.”

By helping in the fight, Jameson said, “I have no doubt we’re having an impact. So far, the group has printed and sent out more than 7,000 medical face shields.

With MLGW’s emphasis on safety, Robbins with Tech Support, found the group’s mission a good fit for him professionally as well as personally.  “Two of my relatives are nurses. They’re on the front lines,” he said. 

The nonprofit group gives the face shields to the Memphis Medical Society to distribute among local hospitals, medical clinics and doctor’s offices. On Sunday afternoons, Hull and Jameson join other volunteers with Midsouth Makers in Bartlett. Volunteers (limited to no more than 10) sanitize and package up frames, face shields and instructions.  

Hull found his niche when he saw a news article in late March about the medical face shields that Midsouth Makers were printing. The first week he made 217 face mask frames. The second week, he churned out 375 frames. (“I wasn’t sleeping much,” he admitted.)

Jameson got involved after his wife, a seamstress, saw a post on her Facebook page.  “I found out it was pretty easy,” Jameson said. While he’s at work, he added, “My wife hits a few buttons and takes the finished ones off and starts it back up for me.” He continues the process after work.

Memphis Medical Society members finish the final assembly with the plastic shields before sending them to those on the medical front lines. If you would like to help buy materials or have a 3-D printer, go to the Midsouth Makers web site: midsouthmakers.org.

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