October 20, 2020

THERE IS SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT about the personal protective equipment worn by health care workers at Kitimat General Hospital. It’s been improved by the ingenuity of local millwright Devin Baer.

Now, nurses and other health care professionals can work more comfortably, thanks to new mask straps Baer designed that shift the tension from behind the ears to the back of the head.

And several donated industrial-style face shields made for construction hard hats have also been put to use by front line health care workers after Baer developed unique head supports to attach to them.

“Devin is a top-notch millwright,” said Bryson Wood, millwright/mechanical foreman with ServcoCanada, Baer’s employer. “He loves to solve problems. What he has done both at work and in the community is truly amazing.”

Baer, who is a member of Millwrights Local 2736, designed and built both products using his 3D printer at home.

“We all need to help each other out and do what we can, and this was something that I could do to help,” said Baer, who is more than slightly uncomfortable with the accolades.

The 34-year-old may not have known there was anything he could do if not for his wife Ashlee and sister Kyla. Both women work at Kitimat General Hospital; Ashlee works in the lab and Kyla is a nurse. When they told him about the pressure aches they were suffering behind their ears every shift, he wanted to make them more comfortable.

And when they told him about the donated visors, he discovered a way to transform perfectly good PPE from construction use to health care use.

“I’m so proud of Devin,” said Ashlee. “He’s very modest about what he does, but hopefully he knows what a huge, positive difference he has made to all of us working to serve our community during this pandemic.”

Servco, which also donated 10,000 N95 masks to KGH, is currently doing a pot replacement project for Rio Tinto in Kitimat. When one of the pieces of equipment was breaking down regularly, Baer created a new handle system to address the problem. He made a prototype on his 3D printer and then ran successful field trials, and now his design has been implemented permanently.

“I just like improving the design of products – that’s my jam,” said Baer. “But helping out can just be asking a neighbour if you can pick up some groceries for them. We all need to do what we can.”

Meanwhile, Millwrights Local 2736 business manager Miro Maras is impressed by both Baer and Servco: “On behalf of the entire union, we are proud of Devin’s ingenuity and that he has improved working conditions for our frontline health care workers. We also appreciate the generosity of Servco Canada stepping up in donating masks. These generous acts are what carries us through these times.”

By Corry Anderson-Fennell
Director of Communications