Richmond students manufacture personal protective equipment at J.N. Burnett secondary school

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      A change of plans was not going to keep Christopher Lam away from the fight against COVID-19.

      Lam, a Grade 12 student at J. N. Burnett Secondary School in Richmond, is a volunteer with St. John Ambulance, a first-aid and safety charity.

      He was expecting to be deployed with one of its teams to the Vancouver Convention Centre. That’s where the provincial government has set up a temporary health facility to serve patients not sick with the virus, in case hospitals are overrun with COVID-19 cases.

      But that situation didn’t appear to be happening, so Lam decided to focus his efforts elsewhere.

      The high-school student then began making face shields with a 3-D printer at home.

      “I wanted to do something to help the community, to help those on the frontlines,” Lam tells the Straight in a phone interview.

      Lam began in March, and before long he was able to produce hundreds of face shields, which he gave to hospitals and care homes.

      Sean Uy, another Grade 12 student at J. N. Burnett, also started to make face shields at home. Lam says that he later inquired whether the school’s 3-D printers could be put into action as well.

      School principal Wennie Walker supported the initiative and got in touch with the Richmond school district to get more printers for the cause.

      Lam, Uy, and a third student, Adriano Carvalheiro-Nunes, are actively involved in this school-based project, with support from technology teacher Wes Bevan and other school staff.

      Adriano Carvalheiro-Nune, Chris Lam, Sean Uy, and J.N. Burnett principal Wennie Walker have been supported by the Richmond school district.

      The students are producing face shields and ear savers, a mask accessory that reduces skin irritation. According to Lam, they want health workers in care homes to get the devices.

      “They’re a major part of what we’re supporting, because they don’t get as much provincial support as hospitals,” Lam says.

      On Tuesday (April 28), Lam had made more than 100 ear savers that day.

      Lam also says they need more materials to keep going. Specifically, these are PETG sheets and filament, and clear polycarbonate sheets. (PETG is polyethylene terephthalate glycol plastic, a durable material used for 3-D printing.)

      No one knows for sure where the world is headed with the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is not about to stop Lam.

      “For me, I’m already a licensed paramedic, so if all education goes down, I will just end up joining either the ambulance service or a private service to help with the situation,” Lam says.

      Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter @carlitopablo