By SSgt Alexandra Longfellow | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, help is always needed. For one Airman, he chose to use his skills to help the medical community, locally and nationally.
For the last three weeks, Ryan Taft, 21st Contracting Squadron COVID-19 response team member, and his neighbor, Chris Myers, have been producing and donating a piece of plastic that will help ease the tension of surgical masks medical professionals wear for over 12 hours a day.
“I have family members in the medical field,” Taft said. “They expressed how mentally distracting prolonged mask wear can be due to behind-the-ear chaffing, I realized then that this was as a small part I could help with.”
Lt. Col. Scott Schofield, 21 CONS commanders, says Ryan [Taft] is always looking for ways to help people and make things better.
“So, it’s no surprise that he’s been working hard to help our community and improve the lives of healthcare workers serving on the front lines in our local hospitals,” Schofield said.
Taft and Myers found the approved National Institutes of Health clip-strap pattern online to be used with a 3D printer they already had. A second 3D printer was then purchased to double their production.
Social media has been a turning point in their success. Hospitals in Denver, Colorado have contacted them wanting hundreds of these for their employees. Their audience is reaching globally with individuals from New Zealand and France on their social media site.
“The hard part of all this was finding the printing plastic,” Taft said. “With the pandemic happening, many stores have limited amount of supplies or their shipping times are longer than normal.”
That didn’t stop Taft to find a solution. He was able to find five rolls of plastic on social media for sale, with each roll producing about 500 straps. The neighbors can now print about 120 a day with each strap costing about $0.10.
“Seeing people outside of my realm impacted by something so small is humbling,” Taft said. “We are all in this together. It doesn’t matter age, race, gender, nationality, rich or poor. We need to work together.”
Taft has been working at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado since July 2019 and this has been the first time working with the Department of Defense.
“I have never experienced such a level of care than I have working with the Air Force,” Taft said. “I have never been called on a Sunday to ask how I am doing and what I need or want. The level of care we have for each other is touching and really inspiring.”
Taft says he hopes mankind can come away from all this with the same caring and consideration that his leadership has given him during this situation.
“His actions are a great example of ‘service before self’ and we are very proud to have him on our team,” Schofield said.
Taft and Myers have set up a Facebook group for anyone interested in helping print the comfort bands and for those who need them. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1822327604558411/