DETROIT, Mich. – Since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, manufacturers in various industries have changed lanes to help develop critical supplies such as face shields and ventilators.
Ford Motor Company has been assisting in the fight from the beginning, and Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge was given a unique firsthand opportunity to test out one of their pieces of protective gear.
Normally when he works in the emergency room, Dr. McGeorge wears an N-95 mask with a paper mask on top of it to keep it clean.
Like most personal protective equipment, Ford’s product is in high demand, which is why the automaker stepped in to help produce it.
“PAPR is a powered air purifying respirator,” an expert said. “It is being used to protect workers by drawing air through a filter up a breather tube and putting that clean air into a hood top or other head gear.”
“When we first got the assignment to come up with a PAPR, we realized that there was one key, critical factor that needed to be done quickly, so we looked at automotive grade parts and non-automotive grade parts to put together a system that we could develop,” Ford technical leader Clay Maranvile said. “We also realized that we wouldn’t have much time to optimize the design because we were constrained by timing.”
In less than 40 days, they went form the original idea to a sketch to a working prototype on the assembly line.
As a frontline worker who depends on PPE for safety, McGeorge wanted to thank Ford and every manufacturer that has stepped up to build supplies and make Metro Detroit safer.
Dr. McGeorge wore Ford’s protective equipment for two night shifts. He said compared to wearing a tight-fitting N-95 mask all shift, it was far more comfortable.
Interestingly, when he went into a room to see patients, they weren’t even phased by it since everyone is wearing masks anyway. With Ford’s equipment, they could see his entire face.