BOSTON (CBS) -- With the sport of hockey on hold across the globe, popular sporting equipment company Bauer is shifting its attention to medical professionals in need.
With a shortage of personal protective equipment becoming a major issue for medical professionals amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bauer -- working with sister company Cascade -- worked quickly to develop a medical mask that drew inspiration from the visors worn by hockey players.
"We use the same components and materials that we use to make visors for hockey helmets," Bauer VP of marketing Mary-Kay Messier told WBZ-TV's Dan Roche. "However, they're re-purposed. So if you think about having a circular, almost like a hat brim. And then the shield is attached to that. And people have seen on the news, front-line workers in hazmat suits at the drive-thru centers where they can go and get tested for the coronavirus. In addition to the small cloth mask that they have over their nose and mouth, the shield really protects their entire face. So if you think about their eyes and any contamination on their skin, that's what it's used for."
Messier said people across the company felt compelled to try to do something, as the continent and the world tries to fight the spread of the virus and keep medical professional safe.
"Engineers got together and thought about what could they do to make a difference? How could they contribute knowing the world is facing this pandemic? And obviously hockey being shut down and us not really being able to manufacture and distribute goods, and I think within our company there's a lot of connections with healthcare workers. So it's on the minds of everyone -- what can we do to protect these people that are putting their lives at risk every day for the most vulnerable?" Messier told Roche. "And within four days they had come up with a concept, tested a prototype, gone through a few versions, been able to get feedback from frontline workers, and now they have a shield that actually works."
Messier said Bauer expects to ramp up production soon, but of course, the company must follow protocols that are in place.
"We have to think about keeping our employees safe as well, working within the health guidelines of the CDC. If you are going to open a manufacturing plant and bring people on, what does the line look like? So we'll take a bit of time to ramp up our capabilities and capacity," she said. "But next week, there will be a significant ramp-up to continue. And we've already produced 100,000 units in Canada, so we expect the demand -- based on what we're seeing very early -- to be very high."
As for the potential impact, Messier said everybody in the company has been happy for the quick pivot from the manufacturing of hockey equipment to the creation of medical masks that can save lives and keep people safe.
"It's just completely blown up, and it's amazing to see people getting on board," Messier told Roche. "We are getting calls from medical institutions and hospitals that are in dire need of these supplies. For us, that's a great thing, because if we can streamline the distribution and get the medical devices out into the hands of the people that need them most quickly, that's a win-win."
She added: "These last few days, it's been probably the proudest day for most teammates that work at Bauer Hockey to be involved in something like this."
More information on the medical masks is available at Bauer.com.
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