A new piece of medical equipment has been introduced by Sooke inventor Al Wickheim.

Necessity becomes the mother of invention

Sooke inventor introduces a new piece of medical equipment

One of Sooke’s residents has invented a product designed to curb the spread of viral loads, thereby decreasing health risks and reducing costs for medical practitioners, from emergency responders to hospital staff.

Al Wickheim, who grew up and still lives in Sooke, worked in partnership with Dr. Stephen Wheeler to invent a product called the STAL Shield and Stand. Visually, it looks like a splash guard on a gas nozzle. And it pretty much functions the same way, but instead of protecting the consumer from gas, it protects people in the medical profession from bodily fluids.

Take for example the commonly-used Yankauer suction tip, which is an oral suctioning tool used in medical procedures to suction throat secretions in order to prevent the patient from choking.

As described on the prodaptiveMedical.com website, “You never know what will come back at you when you introduce a Yankauer into a patients mouth. At the microbial level it does not matter whether you see a volumous spray or are just in the airstream of a ‘retching.’ The STAL stops expectorants at their source and redirects them away from the practitioner.”

Wouldn’t a splash guard make sense?

The immediate benefit of deflecting bacteria and viruses from landing on the medical staff is obvious. Less spread of infection, and fewer costs associated with illness management (additional sick days, extended medical attention, increased health complications, additional infections, etc.).

Conceiving the idea was one thing. Coming up with the prototype was a bit more challenging.

“It was a fairly complicated process,” said Wickheim. “It would have been much easier had I had the CAD (computer-aided design) program to do it. … This was costing us $1,000 every time he (the designer) was touching his keyboard.”

A prototype of the STAL shield was eventually created (it took a year), and then the marketing began. Again, through a lot of trial and error, Wickheim and his team identified the clients: Private ambulance services and the Vancouver Island Health Authority is where Prodaptive Medical Innovations is currently focusing their STAL Shield and Stand sales efforts.

The biggest realization for Wickheim was that the end-user was not the buyer.

“If we knew then what we know now, on hindsight I’d invest in our own CAD program. That would have sped things up remarkably. And I would have done more research on who is buying the products.”

Finding the right price was a third challenge.

What makes for an inventor?

Wickheim is used to seeing things from an alternative perspective. As posted on the About page of the prodaptivemedical.com website, “Al spent a fair bit of time “underground’ as a spelunker on the Island in his youth – his prowess at acrobatics and ropework allowing, sometimes forcing, him into new and unexplored passages and territory.”

“Recognize your limitations, and believe in your strengths,” Wickheim offers to other inventors. “And don’t give up.”

What is next for this inventor?

Besides marketing the STAL Shield and Stand, and running a resort and a hobby farm in partnership with his wife, Wickheim is currently contemplating designing  high end picnic tables

Just Posted

Sooke Potholes viewing area likely to remain closed

Report says that more rockslides likely in the area

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Ousted legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

Loud repairs of navy vessel in James Bay peak today

Asterix undergoing repairs at Ogden Point

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Pioneering Telegraph Cove whale watching company cast adrift after 38 years

Stubbs Island Whale Watching announced it is ceasing operation

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

River Rats beat the odds in game against Cowichan

The Sooke River Rats came up big against a formidable foe on… Continue reading

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

One-third of pregnant women think cannabis won’t harm their baby: UBC

Review of six U.S. studies found doctors didn’t communicate health risks of pot use

Most Read