Utahns donated over 900 3D-printed protective masks to help keep the Provo Police Department safe during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The department now has enough masks for every person in the Provo Police Department, Provo Fire Department and all of the police officers in Utah County.
The donations started rolling in only 72 hours after a plea from the department on the afternoon of March 27, asking all 3D printer owners to pitch in and use their printers to make masks. The Provo Police were only able to print one mask every two and a half hours.
As the entire country is facing drastic shortages in medical supplies, including masks, the police decided to turn to the public to assist in the creation of the new masks. The Provo police department received a free 3D blueprint from Dr. Dusty Richardson, a neurosurgeon from Montana, and then published it on their website for people to use.
Within hours, the tweet reached almost 120,000 people, and throughout the weekend people worked day and night to print enough masks for the force.
BYU professors and the Harold B. Lee Library also offered to help print the masks.
The BYU Library replied to the police department’s original Tweet by saying, “We’ll have to see how we can help!”
Kent Gee, the BYU Physics & Astronomy Department chair, said “I’m so proud of our @BYU_PhysAstro staff, responding promptly this weekend to a request by @ProvoPolice to urgently 3D print masks.” in response to the police department’s Tweet. He also shared that the department is printing eight per day all week.
Utah resident Devin McClellan had only been using his 3D printer for about six months when he saw the plea on his Twitter feed. He started printing the masks within a few hours and brought them to the station.
“Each mask takes between four to five hours to print,” McClellan said. “When I arrived at the police station, I was greeted by an officer along with a few other people at a table just outside the station. They were extremely grateful for the donations and gave me a Provo Police Department coin.”
McClellan has begun collaborating with a group on Facebook and speaking to a local hospital director to start a new 3D printing project to aid local Utah hospitals during the epidemic. The hospitals need shields, which take only an hour to make on the printer. Every mask and shield the group makes will be donated locally in Utah.
The police department acknowledged that each 3-D printed mask did not offer 100% protection. After each mask is printed, they are able to cut up the original N95 mask into five separate filters and use it with the 3-D printed mask in five different locations.
Sgt. Nisha King shared her gratitude to the city in a March 30 press statement.
“The community’s generosity is a reminder of why we work for Provo. This is not just a job for any of us, this is the community we choose to put our lives on the line to support,” King said. “The fact that the community wants to make sure we are protected while we protect them makes me speechless.”
The police department is still accepting donations of 3D-printed masks. People can bring their donations to the Police Department at 48 S 300 West in Provo. The Police Department is requesting that anyone with donations call 801-852-6210 before arriving at the station.