As of March 23, there are 472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, with 13 fatalities. And, as the numbers continue to rise, the need for medical equipment increases, too.
Kali Readwin is one of the founding members of a grassroots group called Vancouver Makers for Emergency Response & Support. Along with partner Sean Wormsbecker, who is an emergency physician, as well as their tech-savvy friend Nick Harrow, the group aims to supply front-line health care workers with personal protecive equipment (PPE).
Right now, health care workers face a shortage of the protective gear that they require to treat patients who have been infected with COVID-19. In addition to face masks, Readwin explains that there isn't enough face shields, either. What's more, this pandemic is still in its early stages.
"We already have 100 volunteers interested to help, so we've already developed and tested a prototype that physicians at Royal Columbian Hospital have agreed they could use," says Readwin.
Readwin describes how Vancouver's emergency response staff use masks as well as protective face shields. However, they are also looking at other medical equipment to use during procedures such as intubation - putting a patient's breathing tube in.
"We're looking for resources like laser cutters, materials vendors, and fundraising help, as well as #socialmedia help sharing our ask, and correct medical information."
Readwin adds that it is pertinent that people stop using face masks if they are not ill.
"There is a shortage of masks right now, and health care workers do not have enough. Also, there is a proper protocal for wearing a mask, and if you don't follow it, it is useless," she says.
Aside from only using a face mask once, it should be used with clean hands. If an ill person continues to cough into a mask, that mask is no longer an effective barrier.
Readwin adds that they would love to, "encourage some propaganda-style ART to spread awareness through the hashtag #antiviralart. We're looking to see ANY kind of art that promotes hand-washing and self isolation. Any style that speaks to you and yours! We'd love to blow up IG with something viral that will do some GOOD. Make it your own! Make new hashtags! We're not really keeping track - what matters is awareness that saves lives."
For information about the proper use of face masks, visit the World Health Organization online.