With the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) surging during the COVID-19 pandemic, HFM BOCES teacher Zac Carrico has been working to produce and assemble protective face shields for healthcare workers. This week, he delivered the first batch — about 30 face shields — to the Respiratory Therapy Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam.
“These can be for anybody who is going to come in contact with patients,” Carrico said. “It’s a physical barrier to touching your own face, as well as a physical barrier between healthcare worker and patient, for protection when people breathe or sneeze or cough.”
Carrico was first approached about producing the face shields after Montgomery County Health Department Director Sara Boerenko expressed a need to HFM BOCES leaders. Career and Technical Center Director Jay DeTraglia said he was thrilled BOCES equipment and know-how could be used to help keep healthcare workers safe.
“Our ability to respond to this crisis underscores the practical and relevant skills our programs offer students and the workforce,” he said. “We’ll continue to contribute however we can.”
Carrico said he was happy to jump into action when DeTraglia told him about the need. “There are people who need this protection, and if we could use the BOCES equipment and unused material to help, why wouldn’t we?” he said.
To make the face shields, the 3D printers at HFM PTECH in the Jansen Avenue School have been humming for hours at a time forming the headbands. Once those pieces are complete, Carrico brings them over to the Career and Technical Center at HFM BOCES and uses the laser to cut the appropriate size of plastic film for the clear shield and makes the holes to attach the headband.
As for the materials, Carrico said he has plenty of plastic filament for the 3D printers on hand at PTECH, enough to make hundreds of headbands, and he has a giant roll of the Mylar film. “I probably have a half-mile of the stuff that was my Dad’s that I just had in storage,” he said. “It was free and kind of works perfect.”
Carrico said the template for the plastic headband has been widely shared and is pretty basic. He’s been in touch with others in the region who are also using their 3D printers and other equipment to produce the protective gear to share what materials and methods have been working the best.
Carrico, who has four young children, said he has been balancing his responsibilities at home with doing remote instruction for his BOCES Engineering Technology students and PTECH robotics students and making the face shields whenever possible. “I’ve been fitting it in,” he said, adding that he hopes to increase production now that he’s worked out some bugs in the process.
“There have been some trials and tribulations of getting it right, but I should be able to start making them faster now,” he said.