3D printer

SAMU sets up a 3D lab to produce medical equipment

SAMU’s engineering department has set up a digital production lab (FabLab), in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The spaces is intended to produce non industrial objects using a 3D printer. The lab produces face masks for children and adults, ear-saving pieces, face shields, and other pieces to adapt different products such as diving masks, into respirators so that students and health professionals could use them as practice equipment during training drills. 

“During the pandemic, we all and in particular at SAMU felt de need to fight at all fronts and use all available resources to overcome the shortage of protection methods available a couple of moths ago. This is a proyect that has been undergoing for a while, to be quickly implemented” Explains Juan Antonio Tocino, responsible for the engineering department at SAMU. “The proyect was set to full motion on Mach 21, upon the arrival of the new 3D printer. That same week we started to print pieces to fight Covid-19”

FabLab has since produced over 300 units for different purposes. “This is an important amount given the limited space and the short time since the inception of the lab. We are looking forward to continuing to grow, receive the additional equipment needed and the official accreditation.” says Tocino.

In Seville, like other parts of Spain, there is a move for people and organizations to print 3D products to supply what is needed to fight Covid-19. In Seville, the FabLab with one of the biggest production lines is the one at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Sevilla, which counts with over 150 volunteers and has produced close to 20,000 PPEs, according to the University.  

“During the pandemic there has been a great spirit of collaboration at the international level and we have set to the community all available models to facilitate printing. In the case of hospital grade respirators, there had been a model published to adapt a scuba mask, but there was none for a portable respirator. This was developed by SAMU and open to the use of the 3D community” Mentions Tocino. “The spirit of collaboration among the 3D community has allowed for the open dialog on the usage of models and best practices”.

SAMU has been working with different 3D printing groups that focus on medical and technical equipment, among  which there is a radiology 3D center supported by the American Radiology Society. The team has also counted with the support of Ama Moreno Ballestero, MD at the Servicio de Radiodiagnóstico y Medicina Nuclear del Hospital Virgen Macarena de Sevilla; and Javier García Sola, Architect with the Sociedad Estatal de Correos y Telégrafos de España.

SAMU teams working at the frontlines of COVID19

More than 64,000 people have tested positive, there are over 4,000 in ICU and over 4,800 have died. Those were the numbers of COVID-19 in Spain as of February 27. Numbers that will tragically continue to grow. Madrid is one of the regions mostly affected in the country by the epidemic. More than half of the diseased nationwide are from this area. To this, there is a growing number of healthcare professionals infected and under quarantine. With over 10,000 workers affected, hospitals have experienced an important shortage in the times of crisis. To this end and following a call from the health department of the Junta de Andalucía, SAMU is working to provide support to the province of Malaga as well as in mobilizing special units to the Comunidad de Madrid. 

SAMU has mobilized three intensive surveillance units, a high capacity vehicle and four units of volunteers with over twenty medical professionals to support operations in Madrid in order to safely move a group of senior citizens that have tested positive to COVID-19 to treatment centers throughout the area. This is a highly demanding job, both physically and emotionally because it forces medical teams to work with protective gear which distances them from patients and are extremely uncomfortable. To add to the arduous routine, the personnel has to follow strict guidelines to disinfect and change after each shift. “Taking care of you to be able to take care of others” is as Juan Gonzales de Escalada, SAMU’s Chief of Operations describes it. 

At the same time, SAMU is working on the transfer of 28 COVID patients from a senior residence in Alacala del Valle in the province of Cadiz. This mission, authorized by the Junta de Andalucia, has been set in motion as a virus outbreak had been identified in the residence, affecting both residents and their supportive personnel. Originally, a group of six health professionals from SAMU were mobilized to the residence. The team was composed of one doctor, one nurse, two emergency technicians and two nurse assistants. The team was led by Andres Rodrigues, a nurse, who conducted a survey of the situation, analyzed the conditions of the elderly and recommended their transfer to a temporary hospital that SAMU had set in the Residencia El Burgo, located in La Linea de la Concepcion. After this, the medical team proceeded to a full disinfecting cleanup of the residency. 

For the transfer of the patients, SAMU provided one bus, six ambulances and two special support ambulances. The transfer counted with a caravan from the national police. During this time, a team of other five professionals were setting up the temporary hospital in La Linea. A day after the transfer, a large number of agents from security and health services from the state sounded sirens in honor of the elderly at the doors of the temporary hospital. Sirens and applauses were followed by SAMU’s team, who showed their solidarity and gratefulness with applauses from inside the premises. Neighbors from the municipality held a large sign that read “You are also our grandparents”. 

Today, 24 SAMU professionals are caring for a total of 28 patients. The security measures are high and all personnel count with the proper PPE. 

“This is a hard and pure humanitarian action, as says our boss Carlos Alvarez Leiva, it’s a textbook crisis” Says Andres Rodrigues, supervisor of the temporary hospital in La Linea. “I am very surprised. I have been to many humanitarian missions in places like Siria and Libia, but I never imagined to be living such a situation in this part of Europe”.

On another front, SAMU continues to provide services in Malaga, where it moves between three to four patients on a daily basis. In addition, the Empresa Publica de Emergencias Sanitarias has requested that SAMU presents a contingency plan of up to 150 workers ready to support all stages of the crisis. Fortunately SAMU’s personnel has received training on the use of PPE and are used to working in high risk areas including working under areas of viral infections. According to Gonzalez de Escalada “its about taking the most extreme precautions”. 

At the closing of SAMU’s march magazine edition, we are still in action helping in all fronts of the crisis with a plan of action and a series of projects to support the local authorities such as the set up of homeless shelters in Madrid and Seville, and the opening of a temporary hospital in the hotel Aljarafe in Seville, aimed at treatment of the elder population. SAMU’s General Director, Carlos Gonzales de Escalada has put his entire organization and resources to the disposal of local authorities and the society in general to contribute to its maximum capacity in the solution of the current health crisis. 

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