BERKS, PA The onset of the pandemic was a major adjustment in the way we viewed travel and interaction. Much of the world reopened, and people in cars searched for necessities in the early days of COVID.
But how do you protect yourself if you don’t have the right PPE? This is an abbreviation that has entered our everyday language: personal protective equipment. When it was not enough at the beginning of the pandemic, it was almost impossible to get more.
“There were people in health care who told us that we are now cutting plastic liter soda bottles and trying to stick them to the bandage because nothing was available.” says Adele Shade of Albright College.
Shade remembers hearing from the front-line workers. “They were scared, you could see it in them, you could read it in their emails when they contacted us. There was despair, no one knew what to expect. «
The veterans tried to save their lives, knowing that they were risking their lives. Berks County desperately needed protection and quickly.
What has happened here on the basis of this need is nothing but remarkable.
Just before Adele learned of the shortcoming, Ellen Albright of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance brought Adele and other Berks County leaders together, expecting them to be able to help.
When they learned about the PPE problem, they had their goal and almost immediately set up a Berks PPE resource network. It consisted of local colleges and universities, nonprofits and businesses. They started making face shields using 3-D printers.
They set up a production unit within three weeks. More than 110 volunteers have created billboards at GoogleWorks, schools and even their homes. One family created a round-the-clock schedule, so their 3D printer printed 24 hours a day. From April to August, the organization had 93 printing houses.
“We have printed a little over 85,000 units in 3D printing. We have issued them to 255 organizations around Berks. “, Recalls Shade.
It was all free. They hoped to fill the gap until the companies could re-equip and start producing shields for sale.
“I think I’ve learned how special Berks County is.” Says Shade.
The devotion to helping others shown by Shade and others like her is an example of what people are willing to do for each other in difficult times. It is a beacon of what we can achieve if we work together.