Teachers At St. Dominic 3D Print Ear Savers For Essential Workers

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Ear savers. Photo courtesy of Paige Forsyth

Teachers at St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School have joined their colleagues across the school board in an effort to support frontline and essential workers by 3D printing ear savers to help reduce the discomfort of wearing masks for prolonged periods.

Teacher and chaplain Paige Forsyth saw photos of other teachers in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board using 3D printers, so she mentioned it in an online staff meeting to gauge interest at St. Dominic. The school’s computer technology teacher Greg Albisser uses 3D printers with his students, so he already had one of the printers at home and was interested in helping out. Forsyth got approval to bring the second 3D printer home and Albisser walked her through using it, so they’ve been printing ear savers ever since.

The supply of boxed gloves from St. Dominic, which teacher and chaplain Paige Forsyth delivered to the ambulance station on Taylor Road. Photo courtesy of Paige Forsyth

“I was just feeling sort of helpless at home knowing that this resource was at school and there was such a shortage of PPE at the time,” Forsyth said. “I just wanted to get that going and see if our school could make a contribution here in Muskoka.”

Forsyth said she’s seen others sewing or knitting to help address the PPE shortage, but as someone who doesn’t do those things, she felt 3D printing ear savers was a way for her to help with her current skill set. 

She delivered 25 ear savers to a doctor’s office in Bracebridge and they’re still working to get the ear savers into the long term care homes, she said. She heard from friends in healthcare that many hospital workers are wearing caps that have buttons to hold on masks, which also serve the purpose of ear savers, so she figured if hospital workers are covered, other essential workers could use the help.

An ear saver in use. Photo courtesy of Paige Forsyth

“Maybe it’s time to think about people working drive-thrus, like Tim Hortons drive-thru, McDonald’s drive-thru,” she said. “If they’re feeling like they have sensitivity around the ears from wearing masks all day, then if all the health workers are covered, we can start providing this to some of the frontline workers who aren’t working in healthcare.”

Forsyth said they have about 30 more ear savers that are printed and ready to be given away, and they continue to print more, coming up with about 10 or 12 a day. Forsyth runs the 3D printer from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. as she helps her daughter with distance learning and they wait for her husband to come home from working as a cleaner in a Bracebridge long-term care home.

“The first initial few weeks, it was very scary for my husband going to work and coming back every day,” Forsyth said. “We were feeling like we wanted to help in a small way from just being at home and so this was an easy way for us to help out the community.”

If you’re an essential worker interested in getting ear savers, contact Paige Forsyth at pforsyth@smcdsb.on.ca or 705-394-8917.

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