MIDLAND, Texas — With the touchdown of a two passenger plane at the Midland Air Park, Mark Merritt, a West Texas pilot and owner of Westech Seal, Inc put an important design into the hands of Dr. George Nnanna the morning of April 8.
Dr. Nnanna is the dean for the Texas Tech College of Engineering.
The device delivered to Dr. Nnanna was a prototype splitter for a ventilator.
Ventilators helps people with respiratory problems breathe through an oxygen tank, but are typically designed for one person.
Though with the splitter prototype delivered to Dr. Nnanna, ventilators in the Permian Basin could soon be able to serve more than one patient.
"So with this control valve if we only have two patients, we can shut down two valves and the air is only coming out from the two ports," said Nnanna.
"You don't want to put the healthcare practitioner in a position on who gets a ventilator and who doesn't," said Nnanna.
Since the pandemic, numerous organizations have been working with Texas Tech University and UTPB to perfect a prototype for a splitter that can be mass produced locally.
Now, Nnanna thinks Mark Merritt's company Westech Seal may have that ready. "I think we are at the final stage at this point of who can do the final testing and then do simulation and then hopefully implement it," said Nnanna.
Merrit's company Westech Seal doesn't usually make medical supplies,
"We generally manufacture seals for rotating equipment," said Nnanna.
Though, to fight COVID-19 cases across West Texas, he's re-purposed his equipment to make a series of prototypes for ventilator splitters, as well as 400 face shields and 200 intubation boxes.
"We can get things where they need to be, I first noticed that on the first prototypes we made we needed to get them to Lubbock, and they said 'well just ship them to us,' and I said 'well no I can finish them up and have them there in one hour,"' said Merritt.
Merritt isn't the only pilot cleared for take off-through social media and the West Texas Aviators page he's helped connect a network of more than 1000 pilots ready to deliver across Texas.
It's an effort the non-profit organization Angel Flight has also thrown its support behind.
Scott Gloyna is a wing leader for the organization.
"All of our instant transport has really gone away, then something like this pops up where you can help deliver medical equipment to small communities which is what we're here to service anyway," said Gloyna
After making a pit stop in Midland, Gloyna had a delivery scheduled in Amarillo to drop off dozens of face shields.
"We're delivering products as fast as Texas Tech and UTPB can make them," said Gloyna.
All of the entities mentioned in this article and other community organizations are joined in what's called West Texas 3D COVID-19 relief consortium, and they need help from monetary donations to supply donations, you can support there efforts by clicking here.
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