Educators, community step in to build face shields for COVID-19 first responders

Across the region, scores of first responders are on the front lines of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, working to save lives and maintain valuable services. Behind the scenes is also a strong network of supporters, including volunteers who are supplying first responders with valuable tools.

Kyo Pineda, Title I program supervisor in OCDE’s ACCESS program, is doing her part too. Pineda has been spending much of her free time over the last couple of weeks building protective face shields using her Cricut cutting machine, a device designed to cut hundreds of materials including paper, fabric, leather and balsa wood for DIY projects.

Pineda said she found a design for the face shields on the open source PPE Project in collaboration with the NYU COVID-19 Task Force.

cricut printer“I used the files they shared and converted it to a digital image that could be read by my Cricut cutting machine,” she said.

Pineda is using 20-gauge marine grade vinyl, which is recommend by Providence St. Joseph Hospitals.

“I ordered it from a manufacturer that specializes in materials for boats and RV’s,” she said. “The vinyl is usually intended for boat windows. However, the PPE Project suggests any thick, non-brittle clear material.”

Pineda enlisted her husband to help with cutting down the rolls of vinyl into smaller pieces that could be fed through the Cricut machine. They have a small window in between the end of their work-from-home days and the time their 3-year-old wakes up from his nap.

She originally ordered five yards of marine-grade vinyl to create about 50 to 60 masks. So far, she’s completed 30. She would eventually like to have more material, but these products are increasingly difficult to find.

Pineda said she already has a request for 20 face shields from a contact at a Torrance-area hospital. Several were also mailed out to pharmacists in Colorado who expressed a need. She has offered the remainder to a group based in Long Beach that is working on matching homemade supplies with medical workers.

For others with the means to create face shields or other supplies for first responders, Pineda encourages them to reach out to the group PPE Posse on Instagram.

More help from a local business owner

Many companies have also mobilized to create face masks and face shield to keep workers safe. Another example is Joe Bloomfield, president of Spyder 3D, who has generously offered to loan 15 3D printers to OCDE employees to assist with printing face shields and other PPE for health care professionals in our communities.

Bloomfield is taking the printers to OCDE offices for distribution. He will also host a virtual training for those who receive a printer. Joe’s team will be perfecting the face shield model to make it easy for everyone to print on their loaned machines. Face shields that are printed and completed are being delivered to local community hospitals or organizations around the county.​

Last week, we chronicled how officials from the Garden Grove Unified School District delivered more than 1,400 N95 masks and 1,700 surgical masks to UCI Medical Center and CHOC Children’s.