DCMO BOCES creates hundreds masks for Chenango's first responders

NORWICH -- Nearly 300 face shields were made available to first responders and through the Chenango County Emergency Management Office and the City of Norwich Fire Department, thanks to efforts coordinated by DCMO BOCES.

“We use them for every call we go on,” said City of Norwich Fire Chief Jan Papelino. “We were low on shields, but I heard from DCMO BOCES that their 3-D printers were making these. We were down to four shields in our inventory so DCMO BOCES helped to fill our gap. Since then, the Norwich High School has given us more, and the Raymond Corporation gave us some as well. We’re in a lot better shape.”

Additionally, a first order of 55 shields requested by the Chenango County Emergency Management Office was followed by another order for over 200. 

“Normally we provide supplies to all first response agencies through the state’s cache system but we couldn’t get any,” explained Matt Beckwith, Fire Coordinator and Director of Emergency Management for Chenango County. “We found a need for face shields to supplement N95 and surgical masks, and DCMO BOCES gave us a sample and asked if we were interested. It took me about 30 seconds to say yes.”

Keeping up with the demand became a shared project.

Three-dimensional printers have been running for 4 weeks at both the Norwich and Sidney Center DCMO BOCES campuses in order to generate a sufficient supply of shields. Because the Technology Department staff led by Instructional Technology Coordinator Pam Brown must work in rotating shifts due to the coronavirus outbreak, the mask preparation and assembly have been tended by the whole team: Brown, Jeremy Loveland, Brian Palmer, Dan Pedersen, Matt Jones, and Chris Brantley.

Area schools also contributed to the effort. Technology teachers Scott Bugbee at Sherburne-Earlville High School and William Rexroat at Unadilla Valley High School, as well as BOCES technician Steve Gillen (Walton Central School District), also worked on 3-D printing.

Finally, the clear sheets of durable plastic used at the front of each shield were supplied by the DCMO BOCES Print Shop using materials they already had in stock.

This personal protective gear is crafted from 3-D printer-generated plastic, and includes an extender worn at the back of the head. “When you’re wearing a mask and shield 8 to 12 hours a day, elastic around ears can be painful and this extender provides relief,” explained Brown.

Beckwith added, “These are great quality. I was very impressed. I’ve seen shields that are no more than plastic wrap but these are fantastic. And when you do find some hard to get shields, they aren’t affordable. BOCES came through for us and we are very appreciative. There was great, great need.”

“Emergency personnel need protective equipment,” said Jason Lawrence, Health and Safety Coordinator at  DCMO BOCES. “The way times are now, BOCES as a community partner must collaborate and cooperate with others to support community needs. It’s vital that we work together to provide what’s needed. At DCMO BOCES, we are doing as much as we can in all the ways we can. Teachers continue to teach remotely. Each week we are providing breakfasts and lunches to our students. We have donated masks from our nursing programs and other necessary materials that our frontline healthcare workers need. By cooperating and collaborating, we will all get through this together.”

Now these masks are provided to all nursing homes and the 16 ambulances operating in the county, as well as law enforcement, confirmed Emergency Management Director Beckwith.    

“We appreciate all the agencies that are trying to help us through this difficult time so we can help the people we serve,” added Chief Papelino. “We are going into houses with people who are having trouble breathing. We don’t know what’s going on with them. Having shields helps us help those who need it. We appreciate it.”
NOTE: This article was published in the May 13, 2020 edition of The Evening Sun, available at this link.
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