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Local teacher chips in to assist healthcare workers

PHOTO. A 3d-printout of the facemask anchor FMCSD teacher Tom MacIsaac developed for staff at the local hospital. Supplied by Tom MacIssac/Twitter.

A local teacher found a novel way to assist healthcare workers in their efforts to treat those suffering from COVID-19.

Tom MacIsaac teaches Engineering and Robotics at Father Mercredi Community High School.

Using the 3D printing device at the school, he created a mask anchor to reduce the wear and tear of surgical masks on the faces of healthcare workers.

MacIsaac said the elastics on N95 masks, for example, causes skin irritation around the face and ears.

“You see pictures online with workers with their faces broken out, but [it only] makes an impression when you know somebody [who] actually has that problem.”

He added as the pandemic reaches its peak in the region, local healthcare professionals will face similar challenges.

MacIsaac said the idea first came to light after speaking with a friend, whose wife works as a nurse at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

His friend provided him with a model of a facemask anchor he found on the internet.

“I downloaded it, went to my lab at Father Merc High School, played with it a bit, and printed it. I gave her the first copy, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s fantastic’.”

MacIsaac said they can five or six at a time due to its complex shape.

He added they provided enough anchors for the nurse and around 20 of her colleagues.

He said teachers and students attending his classes apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We tend to look for real-life problems and get our students and ourselves to start solving these, so it makes the connection more relevant for students.”

As for the material required, MacIsaac said they have enough reels of the biodegradable ‘PLA’ plastic that healthcare professionals recommend.