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3D-printed tool protects first responders

A flexible plastic box printed from a school’s 3D printer could hold the answer to keeping first responders safe from exposed needles in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has affected communities nationwide.

Over the course of four months, a group of design/modeling students at Ashland Middle School in Kentucky created the needle retriever prototype, incorporating feedback from local police chiefs, health departments and other emergency personnel. Technology educators at Shawnee State University taught students about how the box could be mass produced.

Plastic teeth on one side of the hollow device allow first responders to grab discarded needles without poking themselves. Another cylinder-shaped prototype that the students created fits into a police evidence bag.


Link to main story: High schoolers design games, learn programming skills


In the second part of the year-long project, the students developed a website to log needle or drug paraphernalia pickups. The data steers law enforcement toward high-traffic areas.

The students’ work has been recognized in both the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and Community Choice Awards, earning $170,000 to be used for school technology.

The Ashland ISD is now looking at cost-effective ways to produce the injury-saving device, says David Greene, Ashland Middle School’s principal.