College and community wind farm team up to make masks for frontline health workers in Outer Hebrides

A local college and a community wind farm in the Outer Hebrides have teamed up to produce personal protection equipment for NHS doctors and nurses caring for patients in the islands during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first batch of special visors, made by staff at Lews Castle College on the island of Lewis, have been handed over to the local health board in a bid to help frontline staff avoid contracting the coronavirus.

The protective kit includes reusable headbands, created on a 3D printer to an approved design, and packs of disposable clear plastic sheets that form face-shields.

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A total of 100 of the visors have been pledged to NHS Western Isles amid concerns over a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline carers.

Chris Anne Campbell, from NHS Western Isles health board, takes delivery of the first batch of special visors from Tony Robson, engineering consultant for community wind farm operator Point and Sandwick Trust

The project is being funded by Point and Sandwick Trust, which owns and operates the three-turbine Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm on the island.

The first six visors and shields were presented to the health board this week, with more to follow shortly.

Gordon Jamieson, NHS Western Isles chief executive, said: “We would like to thank all those involved in producing these visors.

“We are extremely grateful for these pieces of important PPE which will help ensure our staff are kept safe over the coming weeks and months.

“Again we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has offered donations, support and assistance during this time. We are grateful beyond measure and appreciate the continued thoughts and kindness of our local community.”

Tony Robson, engineering consultant for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are supplementing what’s available to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to use a protective visor if they want.

“Staff seemed quite keen on it; they seemed to like the design, so that’s good. There can’t be enough of these things and staff feel a bit more reassured if they have a visor, rather than just a mask. It’s a common sense solution – made locally.”

Point and Sandwick Trust, which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway for the sole benefit of the community, funded the expansion of the new Innovation Centre at Lews Castle College UHI campus and the purchase of its first 3D printer.

Roddy Ferguson, head of technology at Lews Castle College UHI, said: “Engineering staff at the college were very keen to do their bit to support the local health and social care sectors during the current Covid-19 crisis by utilising the 3D-prototyping equipment from the college’s Innovation Centre to produce safety visors suitable for those working in the frontline against the spread of coronavirus.

“Working with the National 3D Printing Society and Point and Sandwick Trust, staff identified an innovative design for face-shield frames which they have now been printing at the college.”

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