Bellamy Fights COVID-19 behind the Scenes
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Around the world, doctors and nurses are garnering praise for working to save the lives of people struggling to breathe because they have contracted COVID-19.
In a way, Mike Bellamy, a biomedical electronics technician who currently studies the field at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, is also due a bit of attention for his effort to fight the pandemic behind the scenes.
Bellamy works for the healthcare equipment company BEMES Inc. The company services and repairs critical care ventilators and associated equipment that help patients who have trouble breathing or can't breathe on their own due to the pandemic or other issues involving reduced lung function.
“When people are treated for respiratory issues, the machines that you get hooked up to are maintained by dedicated service professionals that you may never meet,” said Bellamy, who attended STLCC after high school and worked as a mechanic for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles before reenrolling at the College.
“We are here to make sure we perform our role in the long list of medical service professionals who are working to keep us alive,” Bellamy added. “Every piece of equipment I touch is treated with the care and attention as if my own family were going to be on it.”
STLCC’s biomedical electronics program is designed to prepare students for an exciting and long-term career in electronic biomedical technology.
According to David Kobe, assistant professor in electrical/electronic engineering, there is a shortage of electronic biomedical technicians in St. Louis and nationwide.
He said there are numerous local opportunities for students to work – from hospitals to medical-related equipment companies that perform installations, repairs, calibration and research of critically needed medical equipment.
“Our students get jobs performing medical equipment installation and repair that often includes local companies that invest in our students by sending some of them to be trained by the manufacturers of specialized equipment such as MRI machines and ventilators,” he said.
Knowing his work is key to assisting the many people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis has changed the way Bellamy sees his work.
“My job has changed my feeling of importance,” he said. “Working with machines is pretty impersonal. Knowing that they are helping to save many, many lives brings it much more into reality. We are also working many more hours right now to try and keep up with demand.”
Bellamy recently wrote to Kobe about his experience on the job.
Hi Mr. Kobe,
I hope this email finds you happy and healthy. These are strange times indeed. I couldn't have imagined that just a few short years ago when I began this journey as a BMET that I'd be smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. Not only a pandemic, but one that has thrust me into the important position of servicing the most needed piece of lifesaving equipment, the ventilator. Thank you for all that you have done to help prepare me for this stressful time, and I will be looking to meet back up with you in a future class. Be well!
Because his educational journey has led him back home to STLCC, Bellamy can relate to students who don't know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they are 19 or 42 years old. So he offered a bit of advice to students and instructors.
“My advice for students is that STLCC is a great place to start your college experience and an even better place to return to later in life if you want to change your career path,” he said.
“My advice for instructors would be that you might not know how much of an impact you can have on a student and how much good will be in the world because of your desire to educate that student,” he added. “Your enthusiasm for teaching impacts our enthusiasm for learning.”