Falfurrias Flashback: Suit up!

Beyond Borders member in a full Tyvek suit with a mask, gloves, and booties on
Tyvek suit in the Texas sun. 
Click image to see Justin trying to breakout of his suit.

It seems like it is usually the little things that I remember most from last year’s trip to south Texas. While most of the day-to-day minutia tends to blend together, other events remain vivid. One of those memorable events involved a video camera, a Tyvek suit, and my humiliation.

Incase you are unfamiliar; Tyvek is a protective suit made from synthetic fibers that is worn over clothing keeping us covered from head-to-toe. It helps to minimize exposure to harmful substances, in our case anything that could be a biohazard. The proprietors at DuPont claim that it is “very strong and difficult to tear”, which may be half true.

I had never worn Tyvek before Falfurrias. I was excited to look like an astronaut or some sort of plague researcher. What I had NOT considered was that it was already 100 degrees Fahrenheit before I put the suit on. Once inside the suit, the heat was oppressive. To add insult to injury, the suit that I managed to squeeze myself into was quite snug. I am an extra-large kinda guy and the largest suit available was a large. Once I lodged myself inside my protective oven I was ready to get to work.

What I very soon realized was that every time I moved, I would hear little rips and tears in the Tyvek suit. I could not reach, bend, nor turn without hearing the telltale sound of my defensive microwave shredding. Every shift of my body meant a new hole in my newly not-so-protective suit. After the job was finished there was only one thing left to do, remove the suit.

Since every time I moved it caused the suit to rip, the obvious answer was that the easiest way to get out of the suit was to rip it apart. Of course, the awesomeness of hulking out of my Tyvek needed to be shared with the world, so I had my UIndy colleagues video tape the process. Earlier I said that the material claimed to be “very strong and difficult to tear”, and that it was half true. While parts of the suit may tear easily, the seams are incredibly strong (such as the zipper and neckline). What was meant to be a video showing off my brute strength ended up being a permanent memorial to my embarrassment. My wife loves this video. She says her favorite part is when everybody starts laughing at my failure. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Justin Maiers