HVAC alum delivers for Geisinger emergency crews

Published 04.17.2020

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning
Clean Energy
Faculty & Staff
Construction & Architecture
Workforce Development

It wasn't remotely on his mind while taking a Mechanical Systems I class in Fall 2011, but a Pennsylvania College of Technology alumnus/employee's plumbing and pipe-fitting skills resulted in fabrication of framework for five EMS airway hoods to be used at Geisinger Medical Center.

A frame for an EMS airway hood comes together in Gillis' workshop.Franklin D. Gillis, who holds Penn College degrees in heating ventilation and air conditioning technology (2013) and applied management (2018) characterized his do-it-yourself project as "gluing a few pieces of pipe together."

His contribution, however, is a clear benefit to health care professionals putting their own safety at risk in the face of possible COVID-19 exposure. The frames can be covered with clear plastic to protect emergency medical service workers and emergency room staff from aerosol particles while working in the airways of potentially infected patients.

A Geisinger employee demonstrates the precautionary use of such a frame, with the protective plastic sheeting attached."A friend’s wife is an ER doctor at Geisinger. She had been looking at different options for some kind of protective covering for a few weeks," Gillis said. "The first one I saw was simply a cover with a few pieces of tape to reinforce slits where different instruments would be used."

He received an email Tuesday with a very rough sketch and the materials list, bought PVC, cut the pieces and glued everything together that night, and delivered the finished frames to Danville the next day.

"I’m not sure who came up with the final design, but putting these together is certainly within my skill set," said Gillis, a construction/building science instructional specialist at the college’s National Sustainable Structures Center.

"While installing heating and air conditioning systems, I often find myself figuring out how to pipe them up so the equipment is serviceable, I don’t have piping everywhere, and with the least amount of material costs," he explained. "Putting together a few airway hood frames did not cause nearly as much head-scratching as how to connect boiler piping."

Photos provided