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Texas ‘mom and pop’ producing thousands of life-saving devices to tackle ventilator shortage

In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo provided by UCLH a female volunteer demonstrates the use of a CPAP device at UCL Hospital in London. Formula One team Mercedes has helped to develop a breathing aid that could keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and ease some pressure on Britains strained health service. Mercedes worked with engineers at the University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital in a combined effort involving seven Britain-based teams to adapt and improve a device that bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation. (UCLH via AP)
In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo provided by UCLH a female volunteer demonstrates the use of a CPAP device at UCL Hospital in London. Formula One team Mercedes has helped to develop a breathing aid that could keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and ease some pressure on Britains strained health service. Mercedes worked with engineers at the University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital in a combined effort involving seven Britain-based teams to adapt and improve a device that bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation. (UCLH via AP)

A Texas mom-and-pop business is experiencing an increase in orders for its helmet-style ventilation devices.

Owner Chris Austin, five employees, and volunteers from the family’s church operated business in a workshop behind their home in Waxahachie, about 30 miles south of Dallas.

Now Austin’s business, Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., is receiving thousands of orders every day from hospitals around the U.S. and countries as far as the United Arab Emirates, NBC News reports.

According to the report, researchers say the helmet-style ventilation devices could allow hospitals spare ventilators for only the most critically ill coronavirus patients.

At $162, the Sea-Long helmet costs a fraction of the five-figure ventilators.

The device was originally designed to run through ventilators, but after working with Dr. Bhakti Patel, who has been studying the devices for six years, and her mentor, Dr. John Kress, Sea-Long has modified the helmets.

The new model allows the helmet to be hooked up to a hospital’s regular oxygen supply, helping to keep ventilators free for those who need them most. Another significant modification made includes the ability to add a viral filter to prevent possible COVID-19 exposure to others.

According to NBC News, Sea-Long’s helmet is the only model of its kind available in the U.S. that meets requirements of the Food and Drug Administration and has been validated in a clinical study for acute respiratory syndrome.

Due to a shortage of ventilators in hospitals worldwide, demand for the helmet has increased tremendously.

For the past several weeks, the Sea-Long team has been working around the clock to produce more helmets.

The workforce has at least doubled to more than 10 people, Austin told NBC News, and volunteers have shown up to help.

“We have people showing up that we don’t even know that say: ‘We’re here to help. What can we do?’” Austin said. “They don’t ask for anything. They don’t expect anything. They just say, ‘Whatever you want me to do, we’ll do it.’”

Now with four additional machines gifted to the business, Sea-Long expects to produce thousands of helmets a week, according to NBC News.


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