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'Helping the best we can': North Idaho company ramps up production of ventilators

Percussionaire Corporation in Sandpoint went from making hundreds of ventilators a month to thousands.

SANDPOINT, Idaho — One of the biggest discussions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has been the availability of ventilators.

In the most extreme cases, people need to be on ventilators to survive, like the case of a Nampa woman who just went home after being on a ventilator for two weeks.

With concerns about having enough ventilators, an Idaho company is ramping up their production.

Percussionaire Corporation out of Sandpoint, Idaho manufactures ventilators. As you can imagine, they are very busy.

"The demand has been overwhelming," said Mark Baillie, President and CEO of Percussionaire. "We are generally a company that produces roughly 100 ventilators a month."

Baillie says a lot of orders out of California really set the stage.

"As a small manufacturer we couldn't just ramp up without receiving purchase orders," Baillie said. "The initial issue is, build the device. How quickly we can build it? How quickly can we bring it to the market?" 

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Baillie says over the last month, those production numbers have exploded. 

"In the region of 1,000 to 2,000 in the month of March alone," he said.

And, they aren't slowing down.

"We will be doing more than 1,000 this week," he added. "Matter of fact, we are doing 500 today."

Baillie's team has been preparing for the outbreak since mid-January. In late March, the game plan evolved.

"I was sitting at home and I had this thought; what if I brought my team in tomorrow morning and we developed a ventilator that would be used primarily for emergency purposes," he said. 

That idea was soon a reality.

“The engineers got working on the ventilator. Within that day, we had a 3D model of our new ventilator printed out and working,” Baillie said. "We had that product on the market within two weeks."

RELATED: Here's what is left in Idaho's medical supplies stockpile

The community in Sandpoint has also done its best to help.

"Every machine shop in the area is building parts for us very, very quickly," Baillie said.  

And they've had support from at least one member of Idaho's congressional delegation. 

“Congressman Russ Fulcher has been very instrumental in getting us connected not only with Idaho, but with HHS and FEMA and all those other states that are in need," Baillie said.

They know though, there is a need in Idaho too.

"Right now we're in the process of donating 100 ventilators to Idaho hospitals," Baillie said.

Through all of this, Percussionaire has kept its prices the same, no price gouging. 

"This is not the time to be chasing the money," Baillie said.

The hard-working team here knows, there is a lot of work left to do.

"I see us in the next two months working long hours, potentially 24 hours a day for the next two months to be able to deliver," Baillie said.

RELATED: New app matches your mask, PPE donations to hospitals in most need

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