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Teacher Creates Emergency Ventilator, Ready to Share it Globally

Jon Amory, an Engineering teacher at Baxter Academy, with his 20 students designed a ventilator that can be made from readily available items valued at Ksh. 150,000 (USD 1,500).

Motivated by the critical shortage of medical ventilators facing hospitals as they try to help patients afflicted with the COVID-19, Amory started doing his research.

Quickly convinced he could build one. Amory said that he drew up some schematics, did some calculations and said to himself that it was something he could produce.

Wanting to create an emergency ventilator that even under dire circumstances could be built and used by almost anyone.

He decided it needed to be built inexpensively using only a few tools and over-the-counter parts. “It’s one thing to build to produce one ventilator in one lab, it’s another thing to produce something anyone can build.”

Amory was certain he could put the machine together most efficiently by himself bouncing ideas off his colleagues but he wanted to include his students. For it was not a required project and there was no allocation of grades, dozens of students wanted to help.

Junior Dennis Slobodzian who has been working on the controls, working remotely with a group of twenty other current and former students began to work on the ventilator.

It is built on what looks like an iv stand and is controlled with a touch at a screen pad. It has a motor that controls a belt that goes up and down.

Slobodzian’s work was to make sure the motor could move in the correct way they wanted it to but was not leaving his home so, Amory brought it over to him. Working on it from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in person. Alumni Josef Biberstien an MIT graduate from Baxter Academy also working on the controls from his apartment in Cambridge Mass, explained that when the patient needs to breathe a piston pushes air into the patient’s lungs and drawn back when the patient is allowed to breathe out. He also explained that it is designed in a way that if it fails will it won’t hurt the patient.

They’ve named it OSV (Open Source Ventilator) for they intend to share the plans with the world. Sophomore Emily Mickool whose part of the documentation group says that she doesn’t want to see it being used.

March 21st was when Amory started his initial plans and drafts and by April 9th, the machine was being started at the University of New England with a simulation specialist Dawne- Marie Dunbar, a clinical professor of nursing and the Director of the Inter-Professional Simulation and Innovation Center. The emergency ventilator was hooked up to a patient simulator.

The exciting part was the data that was got from the patient simulator was mimicking what is seen on real ventilator Dunbar says as he also explains that UNE is committed to allowing Jon Amory to continue to test his emergency ventilator at their facility.

Amory and his students built an emergency ventilator worth $1500 in less than three weeks, a medical-grade ventilator costs anywhere from $25000 to $50000. The machine requires a set of Allen keys to put it together. Whereby all the parts can be purchased from three different suppliers and all the suppliers are in stock.

Amory may have built the emergency ventilator for a worst-case scenario but was an amazing learning experience for his students. As he says that it is important to see that the students can put their skills to use right away. That they can rise to an occasion if there comes up a crisis or a challenge, implement the skills they’ve learned so far and seen themselves being relevant to help find solutions to the problem.

The emergency ventilator stills need to go through continuous testing as Amory says that his students are still working on completing the instructions before it is released.



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