Inventors are working to find ways to help in the global shortages of equipment in the battle against COVID-19. (Black Press Media files)

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

If Plato was correct when he said that necessity is the mother of invention, then the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic fits that statement extremely well.

From ventilators to hospital gowns to face masks, companies across the country have altered the focus of their businesses to help fill the critical need for additional medical equipment across Canada and beyond. So too have a number of B.C. inventors – at least one as young as 14 years old.

In the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, a group of three have formed “Project Draw Breath” to use 3D printers to create ventilator masks. A ventilator is a machine which pumps air into a person’s lungs to assist breathing.

That group, which first included 14-year-old Alex Marsh and Dr. Richard Walton, has since expanded to 10 people helping create the special masks. As they apply to health officials for testing, the group has also created easy-to-construct plastic face shields.

READ MORE: Cowichan Valley team using 3D printing to quadruple ventilator capacity

West Kootenay octogenarian, Peter Brockley, has teamed up with his doctor son with the goal of developing a prototype for a low-cost version of the respiratory machine.

“They’re basically an air pump,” Dr. Graham Brockley told Black Press Media. “A simple one is not theoretically hard to build, but they’re in short supply.”

READ MORE: Father and son work to develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

In Williams Lake, a sewing group has launched a Cariboo Sew Strong campaign on social media, sharing patterns and advice on how to make a variety of face masks for first responders.

Similar initiatives are being seen all across the province, including in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.

“I know that these masks will not replace [N95 masks], but I’m just trying to do what I can,” said Comox Valley resident Lauren Lan.

READ MORE: Fraser Valley crafters are busy sewing cotton masks for health-care workers

However, Health Canada has urged health-care workers to use caution when considering homemade masks.

Federal government admits it didn’t have enough protective gear

Since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in early March, Canadian officials have been working to obtain surgical masks and other medical equipment for health-care workers on the frontlines.

“It is an extremely competitive space right now for personal protective equipment. We are pulling out all of the stops … trying to procure equipment in a global situation where equipment is extremely tight,” Health Minister Patty Hadju said during a news conference on Wednesday (April 1).

Hadju acknowledged that the race to gather equipment is due to not having enough protective equipment in its emergency stockpile.

Three large-scale medical companies – Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Biomedics – have signed agreements with the federal government to provide test kits, N95 masks and ventilators.

– with files from John Boivin, Robert Barron and Monica Lamb-Yorski

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 23: There is an outbreak at a Lower Mainland fruit processing plant

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read