JACKSONVILLE, Fla — One thing that has not changed this year is that every second counts in an emergency.
TraumaOne helicopter pilots were missing a piece to the puzzle when they were faced with wearing new masks. With the help of doctors at UF Health, they created the piece they needed using 3D printers.
"Each flight they would have to have this mic pressed right into their mouths almost with the mask on," explained Tony Hayes, TraumaOne Flight Services program manager. "With the masks we could still communicate, but it was a safety factor as well because you were pressing the mask real close to your mask, which would decrease the effectiveness of the disposable N-95 masks and also you would have a higher chance of contaminating your mic."
Hayes was able to get aviation respirators that were being used for pesticide sprayers, but then they couldn't get the filters they needed.
"They were on back order forever," said Hayes.
That's when Hayes connected with Dr. Travis Meyer, the director of the UF Health 3D printing lab. They created adapters so they could use filters they already had.
"One of these takes about an hour and a half to print," said Meyer, holding up 3D printed adapter. "There was a little, maybe, coming in at 11 p.m. or 10 a.m. on a Saturday to swap out a print."
It took about a week for them to print 30 sets of adapters, which was one set for every crew member. The hospital's 3D printers have been used to help during the pandemic before.
"This is one of the COVID-19 swabs that was used on patients when there was a national shortage," said Meyer. "They ended up printing over 100,000 of these down in Gainesville."
If the 3D printer is needed it can help again.
"Do you feel safer?" asked First Coast News.
"Absolutely," answered Hayes. "I feel that with us wearing them at all times with all of our patient flights it's definitely an added safety feature. We don't have to worry about it anymore."
The 3D printer is normally used to print body parts that doctors can train with before doing a procedure on the real thing.