Coronavirus, Equipment & Gear, News

California Ambulance Services Manufacturing PPE

Photo courtesy AmbuServe Ambulance

With continuing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and lengthy delivery schedules, California Ambulance Association members have taken matters into their own hands and are locally manufacturing PPE. Members of the CAA’s Inter Facility Transfer (IFT) Committee identified the ways they were individually creating PPE and shared templates and “how-to’s” to allow others to plug the gap until supplies return to normal.

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In Southern California, Ambuserve Ambulance Service of Gardena, serving the South Bay area of Los Angeles, is creating homemade gowns and face shields.

“In Los Angeles County, we received several shipments of personal protective gear which included N95 masts, surgical masks, and some isolation gowns from the Los Angeles Department of Health Services Emergency Medical Services Agency,” said Jim Karras, EMT, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AmbuServe. “However, we soon realized that we would need more eye protection and isolation gowns then we could acquire on the open market.”

Because of the shortage, Ambuserve formed a task group consisting of Communications Center Manager Joseph (“Joey”) Diaz, Fleet Manager Luis Perez and Regulatory Affairs Supervisor Robert Cambreros to assess what the group could do internally to manufacture isolation gowns and face shields in house. 

“Within one week, three 3D printers were purchased and put into service,” Karras said. “Plastics materials and other materials were sourced from existing partners through vendor relationships in place by our fleet department personnel.”

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Under the direction of Diaz, AmbuServe’s Fleet department developed a wood template to cut the plastic to and using heat guns, sealed seams to create the garments.

Ambuserve also employed 3D printers to create face shields using thin plastic sheets molded in a semi-round shape with snaps attached at the top for the plastic molded (3D printed) head brace can attached upon assembly by the crewmembers before donning. 

An elastic band attached to the head brace is used to secure the face shield in place on the care provider’s head. To date, over 2,000 isolation gowns and 200 face shields have been produced.

Further North in Livermore CA , NORCAL Ambulance also used locally available materials to create PPE and created a easy to follow guide on YouTube.

“We are doing everything we can to offer our teams the best protection possible and everyone here has risen to the challenge, NORCAL’s CEO Barry Sutherland said. “We would also like to pay it forward and our YouTube video could assist another organization experiencing shortages create their own product.”