EMS shop supervisors produce plexiglass barriers

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science shop supervisors are producing self-supporting plexiglass barriers to help protect the campus community against COVID-19. The shop supervisors are teaming up with the Facilities Management department in creating the two-foot by two-foot countertop items with an etched university logo and a slot to pass papers through.

According to College of EMS Lab and Shop Director Paul Dorsey, their first order consists of 70 barriers with each one taking about 10 minutes to make.

“We have enough material for 70,” Dorsey said. “We are in the process of finishing up that order. At last count facilities had work orders for 15 or 20 so far, but faculty hasn’t come back to campus yet so we are expecting it to go up quite a bit. We are working ahead.”

This isn’t the first time the EMS shop supervisors have created personal protective equipment. In March they used 3D printers to create face shields for area health care workers.

“The shop supervisors and I are glad to be able to use the equipment we have, and their skills to be able to put these together and fill a need,” Dorsey said. “To us it’s a good opportunity to do that for the campus and community.”

There is still a supply of face shields, but Dorsey said right now the focus is the barriers. One of the biggest challenges is getting enough PPE materials.

“We are talking to local manufacturers. There is a big demand for this stuff right now,” Dorsey said. “We are trying to stay ahead of the order without buying a bunch we don’t need and depriving other people.”

The goal of the barriers is to be used in interface areas such as help desks or for instructors during office hours. As faculty, staff and students prepare for the upcoming fall semester, Dorsey is expecting more request orders. He hopes the plexiglass barriers will bring a sense of ease as people return to campus.

“It’s been the biggest reward for us,” he said. “The ability to get the items out to people and for them to continue their work. To lower everyone else’s stress by having something in place to help them work more safely and comfortably.”