Mr. Oliver reached out to local distillers to follow Oregon’s lead and join forces. In the past week, several have stepped up, including OOLA Distillery, which quickly collected all the raw materials, from alcohol to storage bottles. The distillery is ramping up to churn out “thousands and thousands of liters of bottles” as early as next week, said Kirby Kallas-Lewis, the founder of OOLA. It will distribute the sanitizer to emergency medical workers, hospital staff and local community members; it also plans to sell it both to individuals and various businesses.
“The need is now,” Mr. Kallas-Lewis said.
Trevor Smale, an illustrator in Toronto, posted an early illustration of his ventilator design to the Facebook group. The responses prompted him to set up a GitHub page for his project, which he called OpenLung. He is now working with OpenSource Ventilator Ireland, a volunteer organization focused on developing low-cost and open-source ventilators.
Colin Keogh, a co-founder of OpenSource Ventilator Ireland, said that as thrilling as this challenge has been from an engineering and innovation standpoint, he hoped that hospitals would never have to use the equipment they were developing.
“It’s seen as an emergency intervention,” he said. “We hope we’ll be able to cope.”
Outside of the Facebook group, others are organizing efforts to find open-source solutions to the shortage. In Boston, a team of anesthesiology residents at Massachusetts General Hospital grew concerned that it might only be a matter of time before the United States ran out of ventilator machines.
Together, the residents founded the CoVent-19 Challenge, a virtual global contest to increase the capacity of hospitals to provide mechanical ventilation.
“We want people to come with great ideas, and we want to provide them the support that they need to develop something that is compatible with the physiology of the human body,” said Diana Barragan-Bradford, co-director of the challenge.