FedEx mechanic builds intubation box to protect medical staff from coronavirus

FedEx mechanic builds intubation box to protect medical staff from coronavirus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While FedEx planes are busy shipping vital PPE to hospitals around the country, a FedEx mechanic created a new piece of equipment that’s saving healthcare workers’ lives on the frontline in Memphis and the Mid-South.

It’s Shawn Yarbro’s job to make sure FedEx planes get safely into the air. But these days, he’s also making sure the deadly coronavirus doesn’t get into the air at local hospitals.

When Stephanie Yarbro’s boss at Baptist Hospital, Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Imad Omer, asked if her husband could build an intubation box, she thought why not? Dr. Omer sent her a design which she forwarded to Shawn at their home in Arlington.

“He can build anything,” she told WMC Action News 5. “He does home renovations. He works on airplanes for a living. He’s very crafty!"

Shawn and his son Logan, who also works as a mechanic at FedEx, got to work right away. The original plan called for a CNC machine, a piece of equipment he doesn’t own, so Shawn and Logan made some modifications. They went to Home Depot to buy some Lexan, a polycarbonate material, and used heat guns to manually and quickly craft the box in his garage.

“Stephanie called us about 2 o’clock,” said Shawn. “And by midnight we had it delivered to the hospital.”

Shawn's intubation box goes over the head of a COVID-19 patient, providing doctors and staff protection from the virus while they insert a breathing tube. The box has two large round holes in it, where the doctor safely inserts his or her arms to manipulate the medical tools needed for the procedure. It works so well, Shawn's now made 20, with added improvements that make the box easier to clean.

“They’re in every Baptist Hospital in Memphis,” said Stephanie. “Including Tipton County, New Albany and DeSoto. And they’re also at St. Jude and The Med.”

Shawn is particularly proud of the box he gave his daughter Kaitlin, who’s a nurse just like her mother.

“She actually was able to take it to St. Jude,” he said with a wide grin. “And give it to the ICU there. The doctor asked her where did she get it? And she said my dad and my brother made it. So that was really cool.”

Stephanie’s father was also a mechanic at FedEx. And Shawn’s father was a doctor. This Mid-South family is full of ingenuity and dedication to fight COVID-19 in their community.

"You know, I'm grateful to be a small part of this,” said Shawn, “I’m happy that I can help all the people on the frontlines. I just want to make sure the most people are helped with any type of PPE.”

"I'm very proud of my husband,” Stephanie said. “God gave him a talent, you know. He can build anything, and this is obviously helping our medical community greatly."

Each intubation box costs about $125 to make. A Go Fund Me was started to raise $2,700 for Shawn’s project. At last check, more than $4,700 had been donated.

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