MegaBots founder launches Facebook group to help with COVID-19 medical supply shortage

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Ben Corrado is on a mission.

“I have an URGENT need for help from a mechanical engineer to design some 3D printed PAPR (powered air purifying respirator) parts. My wife is an ER nurse and they have run out of PPE (personal protective equipment) already. Please contact me if you can help,” his post on Facebook begins.

Corrado, a member of the Facebook Group Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies who lives in Salem, Oregon, is trying to help his wife who is an ER nurse.

“What do you need to design, I might try,” responds Software Developer Shimon Doodkin who lives in Israel.   

“Anything that is SCUBA style that is independent on the outside conditions would work,” comments David Paul a former EMT from Nevada who is raising funds to purchase laptops he will l deliver to a Tibetan refugee settlement this summer.

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Germany-based Sebastian Schmidt, who does research to advance technology at Daimler AG Group Research & MBC Development for Mercedes-Benz wants to help and comments,  “I‘m pretty fast with designing everything in CAD, so I might be able to help.”

Over 100 comments and dozens of shares happen on the post within an hour in an effort to help solve Corrado’s problem.

And that is the hope for the group made up of more than 24,000 members from around the world. It was created on March 10th by MegaBots Co-Founder Gui Cavalcanti, a robotics engineer living in Berkeley, California.

In his debut post, Cavalcanti announced, “HELLO WORLD: Welcome to Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS), formerly known as the Open Source Ventilator Project. I started this group to quickly develop an open source ventilator, as it seemed obvious to me that global supplies would run out.

“After speaking to medical professionals all over the globe, it became even more obvious that we will quickly run out of MOST COVID19-RELATED MEDICAL SUPPLIES, and ventilators are only a small part of the problem. I have been introduced to a number of groups who are already working on open source efforts to develop ventilators and other projects. We want to help them succeed rather than to duplicate their efforts.

As of March 20th, the global group had 12 administrators and 17 moderators.

Cavalcanti posted that the biggest problems to overcome in the COVID-19 pandemic are:

“a) COVID19 is incredibly infectious, due to a 5-day incubation period with pre-symptomatic transmission;

b) It sends 15-20% of infected people to the hospital for respiratory failure;

c) Patients are then hospitalized for weeks. During this time, medical supplies are needed to support both patients as well as healthcare workers.

“We therefore will run short of supplies (particularly with supply chain disruptions), and we will likely require alternative medical solutions globally,” Cavalcanti writes.

He outlined the mission of the group as:

“We are the largest and fastest-growing community addressing this issue head-on. Our mission is to be a virally-growing (pardon the unfortunate description) portal that:

a) Educates as many people as possible, as accurately as possible, on problems and helpful solutions;

b) Directs volunteers of various skills and backgrounds appropriately to dedicated teams around the world;

c) Shares potential solutions to effective medical supply problems far and wide;

d) Helps coordinate local and global responses when and where appropriate.

You will see a lot of formalization and additional structure over the next few days, accordingly.”

Cavalcanti’s request for help from people with a variety of skills is this:

“Regardless of your background, your first job is educating yourself on the realities that are being faced here. Please take a moment when you join to read the Introduction section in the requirements document linked in the comments below.

“Your second job is to identify friends who are interested in joining and helping, particularly if they are: medical professionals, engineers, project managers, makers, fabricators, or people who are tied into any relevant communities,” he commented.

“The larger this community is, the more effective a global response it can mount,” Cavalcanti commented about his crowdsourcing initiative.

“If you would like to specifically offer your engineering or project management expertise to developing open source solutions, please see links to helpful organizations in the comments. We ourselves need writers, moderators and community wranglers from all over the world, medical professional volunteers, connectors to related medical + engineering + fabrication + supply organizations, and externally-focused communications team members. Please comment below if you would like to join our expanding communications & media team behind the group.”

On March 20, Cavalcanti announced the group’s release of version 1.0 of an “Open Source Medical Supplies Guide.”

“I am extremely proud to announce that after several days of work from 47 globally-distributed volunteer writers in our organization (including librarians, medical transcriptionists, doctors, engineers, and more), in addition to contributions from thousands of people from all over the internet over the weekend, we are releasing v1.0 of our Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies guide,” Cavalcanti commented.

“The purpose of this guide is to provide an accurate, layman-accessible, boots-on-the-ground, primary-source view of the course of COVID19 treatment, as best the world understands it right now,” according to Cavalcanti.

The guide intends to, “Identify all the major medical supplies necessary to treat COVID19 that will be necessary in the coming months,” and “ Begin cataloging open source solutions to all of the medical supplies needed to treat COVID19.”

On March 20 Cavalcanti released an updated Open Source Medical Supplies Guide as version 1.1

A link to the guide is here.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-71FJTmI1Q1kjSDLP0EegMERjg_0kk_7UfaRE4r66Mg/edit?fbclid=IwAR3qcErYPJNWcIEDL75jGdQ1UBHarD_CXbQ037x-svTZWID3DPal7XTh8cM

EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the first in a series of stories about individuals and organizations coming together to push back against the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s entitled “COVID-19 vs. Us”.

These inspiring people are taking a proactive approach, and helping themselves, their communities, and their world to battle against this staggering epidemic.

If you have a story of a person, business, or organization that is fighting against the coronavirus to help others, please email us at editor@mainstreetdailynews.com.

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