How An NS Library Is Helping To Save Lives

By Ben Hamill - April 10 2020

How An NS Library Is Helping To Save Lives

When a Nova Scotia South Shore public library initially bought a 3D printer a few years ago, the last thing on anyone’s mind would have been that the printer would one day be put to use to not only train minds and imaginations, but to save human lives. But now that the library has officially teamed up with ER specialist doctor and medical health expert Dr. Thomas Dietz for the purposes of 3D-printing replicas of a human airway as a means to help train doctors tasked with treating patients in need of mechanical ventilation, saving lives is without a doubt at the top of the Luneburg branch of South Shore Public Library’s things to do with a 3D printer.

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The library has so far used its printer to make three plastic models of a typical human airway. And it’s a project that will enable emergency physicians to be as prepared as what is humanly possible for whatever may come during the global health pandemic. 

Practice Makes Perfect

As to how Dietz had initially happened upon the idea of helping doctors prepare for the medical insertion of mechanical ventilators by means other than via the mouth and throat of a patient, it all came about quite by very happy accident. He had in fact himself been looking for new ways in which to fine-tune his own medical response skills when he came upon the design for a 3D-printed model of a human airway on an emergency room assist website. It then dawned on him that 3D printers may be just what was needed to help doctors prepare for a procedure not very often performed throughout the course of a non-pandemic career.

Dietz had personally not performed a ventilator insertion procedure for at least 8 or 10 years and so recognised from a personal lack of experience the critical need for this type of medical training and flexing of skills. It was at this point that the physician decided to contact his local public book-lender for help.

Doctors Need Only Ask

Dr. Dietz promptly sent off the file detailing how a 3D airway is to be constructed to South Shore Public Libraries community engagement coordinator, Christina Pottie, who immediately took up the challenge of getting the very special print going.

And since all libraries are currently closed to the general public, Pottie was able to deliver the human airway printed model to the physician that very same evening still. Impressed by the final product, Dr. Dietz has since dropped off models at various hospitals in the region. And as for the library and Christina Pottie, they’re more than willing to help the cause by printing more models if other doctors wanted to practice on them too.

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