North East Connected

College technology staff innovate protective equipment for frontline staff

VITAL protective equipment is rolling off an impromptu production line thanks to the ingenuity and dedication of a school’s technology staff.

Teachers and technicians at Carmel College, Darlington, are hard at work creating hundreds of safety visors designed to protect frontline staff in hospitals and the community from coronavirus.

Up to 600 visors are being made during the holidays thanks to a donation of polypropylene by Primex Plastics, of Newton Aycliffe.

The sourcing and contacts were initially set up by Leah Bettney. The pattern, based on a free version offered by Kitronik, was developed further by teacher Mark Holt, to ensure the fastest production with the least amount of waste possible.

The visors are now in full production by the whole department, including colleagues Emily Brown, Michael Clarke and Stephanie Pinnock. Schools in the trust also recently donated hundreds of pairs of goggles and thousands of pairs of gloves to frontline health staff.

Leah said: “As a department we feel very proud to be in a position to be able provide vital PPE to essential key workers, who are working in positions of risk. As a school and a community we must do what we can to help and we are lucky to have the resources and support to play our part in this.”

The school has been in contact with James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, which is happy to take hundreds of visors for its staff.

There are also plans to supply local doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies and care homes, front line settings not normally supplied with personal protective equipment.

Carmel College principal Mike Shorten said: “This really is a wonderful effort by our staff. We looked at making the visors but didn’t have the materials on site. Leah approached a number of companies and Primex were very supportive in providing a roll of polypropylene.

“The headbands are laser-cut and able to be sterilised and used again and again, but the visors need regular replacement. They are made from 240-micron acetate binding covers we bought from Viking Office Supplies. At the moment the staff can make 10 an hour; that’s over 50 a day, which is hard work but incredible.”

Chief executive of the Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust (formerly Carmel Education Trust) Maura Regan added: “I am so proud of our staff, who, as key workers, are themselves on the frontline. Until the holidays started they were teaching five lessons a day live, on line and have now chosen to come in during the Easter break to make the visors, which really is going above and beyond.

“As an educational trust we pride ourselves on being at the heart of every community we serve and we are only too pleased to do anything we can to support the NHS, doctors and frontline workers in all areas to help keep them safe from this terrible virus.”

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