Vidor teacher making face shields to aid area healthcare workers

Published 8:45 am Saturday, April 11, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Van Wade

There are so many ways to help attack the COVID-19 pandemic and so many great people across the country are doing their part to aid in the fight.

Vidor freshman science and robotics teacher Amanda Balla is doing just that.

Balla is part of a group that is using transparency film to make face shields for nurses and healthcare workers across the area.

“They are going out to places like Baptist Hospital and St. Elizabeth Hospital as well as some of our county nurses, who are at testing sites,” said Balla. “We’re continuing to make as many as we can and more people are getting involved and we hope to start getting them to nursing home nurses too.”

Balla and friends got wind of the idea when they came across a blog from Alex Kretzschmar from North Carolina.

“We just want to help as many people as we can,” said Balla. “Those healthcare workers on the front lines are doing a great job and we just want to support them the best way that we can. We can do great things for healthcare workers if people with 3D printers did a few masks each day.”

While she continues to do a wonderful job teaching Vidor high schoolers, Balla has spent a lot of her spare time producing masks.

“On good days, you can make eight to 10 a day,” said Balla. “More and more people are getting involved, we don’t want our area healthcare workers having shortages.

For those interested in helping and learning how to make face shields the link to Kretzschmar’s blog is

Balla is also involved in another project which is called Bringing Breath 2 the Bayou, which is organized by Michael Black.

Black, a science teacher in the Beaumont area, plans to build ventilators to help the fight against COVID-19.

“Looking for ways to help, I had been printing face shields and giving them to medical workers,” said Black on his Facebook page. “I stumbled across a news story about a team at Rice University, which has developed an open-source ventilator. Playing and replaying the video and freeze-framing over and over again, I realized that I recognized every component and all of it was well within my skill set.”

No doubt, Black was ready to hit the ground running.

“I got in touch with them and have dissected their schematics backwards and forwards,” said Black. “I realized I have experience with every skill, tool, and process involved in the manufacturing of it. If we can help build emergency ventilators, we can save local lives together.”

Black has started a GoFund Me page on Facebook called Bringing Breath 2 The Bayou. It is trying to raise right at $35,000, which would help purchase all of the tools and materials that could manufacture at least 50 emergency ventilators.

Also, everyone can go to The Orange Leader Facebook Page and see the Bringing Breath 2 the Bayou post if anyone would like to contribute.

“I’m helping Michael print some of the parts that will help in putting the ventilators together,” said Balla. “Michael definitely knows what he is doing. When you think of ventilators, you think of the worst-case scenario. But if it was my breath, my life on the line, I’d want the doctor to use it. Please donate if you can and share the heck out of this fundraiser, and if you have a 3D printer, please contact me or him and we will put you to work.”