In a demonstration of adaptation during the Coronavirus pandemic, six new ventilators have been built and donated to the Tasmanian health system by North-West industrial company Elphinstone.
The ventilators were built through a partnership with Gekko Systems in Ballarat, which the Elphinstone Group has a minority interest in, with work beginning on the venture at the early stages of the pandemic in Australia.
Executive chairman and founder of the Elphinstone Group Dale Elphinstone said he was proud to be able to give back to his community in this way.
"I think if you boil this down, we live in this community, the roots of our business are here, and this is about giving back," Mr Elphinstone said.
"Back in March, April, when we got locked down, our team up at Gekko decided we were going to put together a ventilator as it looked like we were going to be desperately short.
"It has certainly given us a great deal of pleasure to be able to deliver six of these to the Tasmanian Health Department - and I certainly hope we don't need them," he said.
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A far stretch from the usual work responsibilities of Gekko Systems employees, the company's technical director Sandy Gray said at the heart of the delivery of these machines was community and adaptability.
"The most relevant thing is probably how lucky we are to live in a small community," Mr Gray said.
"When the media first got on to what we were doing, I just got flooded with calls from people wanting to contribute - not just money, but their services, their time, wanting to know how they could help.
"If nothing else, it shows the capabilities of our people and our community," he said.
"We had a team of young guys, our electronics employee, who within two days had an operating controller he had designed and built at home."
He said a big challenge, faced by so many in the health industries, was the accessibility of materials needed to actually build the ventilators.
"You couldn't just ring up and ask for parts for a ventilator - it was a matter of starting again, and building from scratch.
"And then it was working with whatever skills we had, and adapting."
Deputy executive director of medical services at North West Regional Hospital, Dr Shezhad Kunwar, said these ventilators would be significant in facilitating care across Tasmania, particularly in the more remote areas in the North-West region.
"We're really happy to have these ventilators, and we think they'll make a big difference across the state," Dr Kunwar said.
"Even though COVID has calmed down in Australia, and especially in Tasmania through the hard work of so many in the community and health services, it's really important that your bank is full of these machines so when things do go awry, you have the equipment ready."
The ventilators are built in a way that means it can have its own oxygen supply attached to it, but it also has a battery inbuilt - a feature not always available.
"Being in a regional area, we have a lot of repatriations for people who are interstate or patients who need to be transferred to higher tertiary facilities such as in Melbourne or Hobart," Dr Kunwar said.
"Here, the nearest tertiary hospital is about four hours away by car, or requires a flight.
"These ventilators will be perfect for transferring patients from regional and rural places to these other hospitals when required."
Member for Braddon, MP Roger Jaensch said this generous donation was an example of the importance of investing in the local community.
"If we ever needed reminding of how important it is to have an innovative research and manufacturing capability in Australia, and good corporate citizens, this is it," Mr Jaensch said.
"To Gekko and Elphinstone, thank you for investing in know-how, in good, clever people in Australia, and... for your generosity for thinking of a place like Burnie, a place like Tasmania, for the first products of your line."
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