NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After coronavirus concerns shut down a nationwide company, leaders are finding new ways to get employees back to work while also helping protect first responders against COVID-19.
“We are not accepting the normal rules and normal situation as our destiny we are going to fight every day,” said Mark Flint, CEO of The Escape Game – an interactive social experience where teams of people work together to complete tasks and solve puzzles to accomplish a goal.
With the COVID-19 crisis forcing The Escape Game to close all 18 of its locations across the country and also furlough almost all of its 450 employees, the company is now shifting gears and making face-shields for medical workers on the frontlines.
“We don’t do well with sitting around and watching things happen,” Flint said. “It’s incredibly fulfilling that we’re able to both fight for our team and be a really small part that our country’s got with this global pandemic.”
The Escape Game is looking to produce thousands of face shields a day at its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, and ship them out to medical staff across the country.
“As soon as we put the word out, we got a lot of interest,” flint said. “A doctor will call from Florida and say, ‘hey, can I get 200 of these?’ A hospital from Ohio will call up and say, ‘can you get me this amount by this time.’”
For some first responders, these face shields couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Cpt. Tony Murrell of the Nashville Fire Department. “Any help we can get because personal protective equipment is kind of limited.”
Murrell says with personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies dwindling, these face shields can help first responders protect themselves and ultimately save other’s lives.
“We can be around somebody who has it and we don’t even know it,” he said. “So, with the help from a mask it can protect us and that way we can help other people also.”
Health experts say the impact of PPE can be felt across the country.
“We’ve all heard that there’s some communities like New York City, Detroit, New Orleans where they’re really hurting for PPE,” said William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Schaffner has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was also a past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
He says across the country, there’s an urgent need for PPE because if first responders can’t protect themselves – they can’t protect their patients.
“At the moment, we’re doing pretty well,” he said. “But we’re concerned because we think this week and next week there will be a big surge of patients.”
Schaffner supports the escape game’s transition to making face shields and believes its part of what our country needs to survive this pandemic.
“This is the American way,” he said. “People have done that for ages historically in the United States; neighbors help neighbors. This is a wonderful idea.”