Sign of the times: FASTSIGNS aids health care

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  • Eric Webb, franchise owner of FASTSIGNS in Fernandina Beach, and nurses at Baptist Medical Center Nassau observe social distancing while delivering intubation boxes at the hospital. SUBMITTED
    Eric Webb, franchise owner of FASTSIGNS in Fernandina Beach, and nurses at Baptist Medical Center Nassau observe social distancing while delivering intubation boxes at the hospital. SUBMITTED
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Adapting its manufacturing abilities and skills, a local business is providing protection from the coronavirus as well as supporting health care workers.

FASTSIGNS, located on South 14th Street in Fernandina Beach, is now making plastic shields used between customers and employees in many businesses as well as intubation boxes for the local hospital, Eric Webb, owner of the local franchise business, told the News-Leader.

Webb said his store began making the intubation boxes after an employee at Baptist Medical Center Nassau sent him a nonprofit organization’s flier with plans for creating them.

He described the box as a simple rectangle made of acrylic that is used when a patient is intubated, a procedure that involves a health care worker placing a tube down the patient’s throat. Because the patient can cough and gag during the procedure, the intubation box covers his or her head and prevents any fluids from making contact with the health care worker performing the procedure.

Webb said when he received the plans, he realized immediately his company could produce the boxes.

“The first thing I did when I got the intubation box plans, I went to the (other franchisees) of FASTSIGNS, more than 700 all over the world,” he said. “I posted the flier and said, if they had a router, make them and get them out to all the hospitals now. It cost us money and business, but it was the right thing to do to get them there. Now a lot of different FASTSIGNS are making them.”

The first boxes were used locally, but as word about them spread, Webb has shipped them all the way to Minnesota.

“The first thing we did was just make a prototype and donated that to get it over there as fast as possible,” Webb said. “Since then, we have been contacted by various hospitals, Baptist Nassau and Jacksonville, Shands, UF Health Jacksonville, and Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital in Minnesota.”

Since he began manufacturing intubation boxes, the design has, and will continue to, evolve, he said.

“We are now working with one of the emergency directors at Baptist and coming up with different prototypes and fine-tuning to meet whatever their needs are,” Webb said. “We are making a new one that is more of a shield that you attach plastic to that gives them more freedom of movement.”

In addition to the intubation boxes and acrylic shields, FASTSIGNS has a program to show local support for health care workers.

“We have put a program together called ‘Sign Up The Town,’”

Webb explained. “We are selling yard signs showing appreciation for health care workers. The signs sell for $20, and $5 from each sale is donated to a fund for feeding health care workers through gift certificates to local restaurants. Hopefully that will help those workers and restaurants.”

Webb said the intubation boxes, shields, and signs are simply ways his store “is keeping the lights on while helping people who have been awesome to us.”

His company gets special satisfaction from making the boxes, he added. “When we deliver these, the appreciation and relief from the doctors and nurses that do that work – giving them a little protection gives them a bit of self confidence and that means a lot,” he said.

For more information on FASTSIGNS, go to https://www.fastsigns.com/576-fernandina-beach-fl.

jroberts@fbnewsleader.com