By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
A team of volunteers from Hammersmith who used a workshop at their old school have donated more than 23,000 face visors to front line NHS workers in London and across the UK.
George Dzavaryan, from medical prosthetic start-up Augment Bionics, said the team decided to turn its hand to making personal protection equipment (PPE) to help the NHS.
The 22-year-old said the lockdown meant the company’s business was on hold and they wondered how they could help.
Teachers at the science and technology labs at his old school, Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, stepped in and at first he recruited volunteers with an engineering background to help – and others have now joined the team.
He said: “Most of us are Latymer School graduates.” The youngest is his 17-year-old brother, Alex.
They used the lab’s printers to make 12 face visors a day initially.
Mr Dzavaryan said at first it took 10 minutes to make each face shield.
They have now also used a lab in Acton, where they are using an injection moulding technique. The costs have been covered by donations.
Mr Dzavaryan said: “We are now making one every 20 seconds and making 20,000 a week. We are still using the school for packaging, and it was really helpful at the beginning where science and technology teachers Elizabeth Green and Lucy Snooks helped.
“We have supplied everywhere, all the way to Inverness.
“At the beginning it was very stressful but we have learnt how to deal with it.
“I’m incredibly impressed with the team and very proud of the front line workers.”
The face visors are single use only, so medical staff are getting through many items every week during their shifts.
The team decided to stick to making one form of PPE and Mr Dzavaryan said:
“There are still some hospitals with shortages, or saving some material for a second wave of coronavirus.”
As and when the lockdown relaxes the kit could also be used by shop workers and taxi drivers and other people who are working closely with the public.
The team are checking with hospitals to see if they have enough equipment and, as the project grew, they started dealing directly with procurement departments who are asking for thousands of the visors at a time.
Small orders are delivered by couriers, and volunteer drivers and Latymer School also stepped in and loaned a van and they are also using a logistics company to help.
Mr Dzavaryan said he hoped people would remain vigilant to help prevent a predicted second wave of coronavirus.
He said: “We should learn lessons from the past and still be as careful once lockdown has eased.
“Travel safely, when you are allowed to, wash your hands before you eat, and probably wear a mask for a while,” he said.
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