The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers—especially respirators. In response to a lack of commercial respirator equipment, a multidisciplinary prototyping hackathon was held and the key components required to develop an inexpensive, scalable “COVID-19 reusable elastomeric respirator” (RER-19) were identified. Available hospital supplies were assessed based on their published technical specifications to meet each of the key component requirements. The fully assembled prototype was then validated through user testing, and volunteers underwent standard fit testing with cardiopulmonary monitoring while wearing the RER-19 in a small pilot study. Multiple social media platforms were then used to disseminate educational information on respirator assembly, use, and maintenance. Here, we present our institution's initial experience with prototyping to meet a specific healthcare challenge, in combination with prompt dissemination of information to educate and empower healthcare workers in the face of a critical PPE shortage during an unprecedented and evolving pandemic.