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Supercars team assists with COVID-19 supplies

Erebus Motorsport leads the way in Australia as UK F1 teams create ‘Project Pitlane’

30 Mar 2020

AUSTRALIAN Supercars team Erebus Motorsport has joined in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by beginning production of medical equipment including facemasks and a protective Perspex box designed to shield healthcare workers from infected patients.


The move comes as the seven British-based Formula One racing teams and their technology divisions join forces to manufacture and deliver respiratory devices in response to the Johnson government’s call for assistance.


Erebus Motorsport chief executive Barry Ryan announced on Sunday that the Melbourne-based racing team was working with Supercars medical delegate Dr Carl Le and was already using the resources from its workshop to produce medical supplies.


“We are in a fortunate position where we have the ability to make this shift in our operations and help our healthcare workers and patients,” he said.


“One of our engineers has family isolated in Italy, so the effects of this virus have hit close to home for us.


“Marko (De Rosa) approached me with the idea of making ventilation masks and in collaboration with Dr Carl Le. We have used our 3D printer to design and further develop ventilation masks for healthcare workers that are based on underwater snorkelling masks.”


According to Mr Ryan, the simple design and construction of the masks make them particularly cost effective and efficient to manufacture, meaning they can be produced and distributed quickly.


Dubbed the ‘e-mask’, some 300 units are already nearing completion while several examples of the ‘e-Aerosol Box’ are currently being trialled in two Melbourne hospitals.


“One of the riskiest times for a healthcare worker is when a patient is particularly unwell and needs to be intubated,” Dr Le said.


“Because these workers must be in very close proximity to the patient, this box can provide an additional physical barrier.”


The ‘e-Aerosol Box’ is made of clear Perspex and is designed to fit over a patient’s chest and neck, with two prominent holes cut in the front for medical staff to reach through during treatments or observations.


Another smaller hole is also cut into the structure to provide access for suction hoses.


“Every emergency department or ICU has wall suction, so we modified the box which can vacuum potential droplets away from the area,” Dr Le said.


In the UK, all seven locally based Formula One teams – Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams – have agreed to pool their resources in the fight against the coronavirus to create ‘Project Pitlane’.


Respiratory devices are at the centre of the initiative with Project Pitlane set to focus on three main workstreams.


“These workstreams vary in scope from reverse engineering existing medical devices, to support in scaling the production of existing ventilator designs as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, to the rapid design and prototype manufacture of a new device for certification and subsequent production,” the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) said in a statement.


“In each instance, Project Pitlane will pool the resources and capabilities of its member teams to greatest effect, focusing on the core skills of the F1 industry: rapid design, prototype manufacture, test and skilled assembly.”


Across the water on the Isle of Man, local motorsport charity the Rob Vine Fund has made its medical equipment available to the Manx health service including ventilators, monitors and three ambulances.


These are usually fitted to the rescue helicopters used during the Isle of Man TT.


A Rob Vine Fund spokesperson told the BBC its directors had “unanimously decided” to make all of its equipment available “to support the Manx community”.

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