Saanich medical company forges ahead with ventilator production
SAANICH -- A team of engineers in Saanich has been working at a feverish pace designing ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.
Kenneth MacCallum is an electrical engineer with Starfish Medical. He is one of 30 engineers at the Saanich-based company working tirelessly to create the life-saving devices.
“It’s a super tight timeline, and yeah every week that we might be late is a week of people who would have needed this thing,” he told CTV News.
The family-owned, island-based company has already developed a prototype device based on a ventilator designed decades ago in Winnipeg.
Now, its team is racing to fulfill the Prime Minister’s announcement two weeks ago that the company would be one of four Canadian businesses responsible for creating 30,000 ventilators.
Starfish Medical says it is responsible for 7,500 of those ventilators.
Hundreds of the ventilators will built at Starfish Medical’s Saanich headquarters. Most, however, will be built by a different company in Ontario using Starfish’s designs.
Scott Phillips is Starfish Medical’s founder and CEO. He says the company’s task is even more daunting because the COVID-19 pandemic has most staff members working remotely.
“This is crazy that we’re doing a program of this magnitude this quickly with everyone working from home,” said Phillips. “So, we’re learning a lot but it’s working amazingly well.”
Starfish Medical was created 21 years ago, and Phillips says he feels grateful for the chance to put his team’s expertise to work
“For two decades we’ve been training exactly for this moment without knowing it.”
And despite the intense hours and pressure, his team seems unwavering in their focus.
“We can’t afford to miss the head of the nail,” said MacCallum.
The company expects to have its design finished by mid-May, and a final product built by the end of May or early June.