PROTECTIVE GEAR PROPOSAL - 1-pieceTTB
Suggested PPE: 1-pieceTTB [One-piece Top-To-Bottom]
As the name suggests, this gear is built as one piece from top (of the head) to the bottom (of the feet). This 1-piece suit covers the whole body and one does not need additional accessories like gloves, shoes, shoe-covers, eye protection, head/hair-cover, nose mask, fluid resistant apron, etc. Less the number of accessories we have to deal with, less the chances of virus breaching the gear and affecting the medical personnel. Following is the pictorial representation of this suggested PPE along with basic and the only three components in this suit along with their specification and idea behind the usage. I have also added the manufacturing and suit testing thoughts.
Suggested PPE: 1-pieceTTB [One-piece Top-To-Bottom]
As the name suggests, this gear is built as one piece from top (of the head) to the bottom (of the feet). This 1-piece suit covers the whole body and one does not need additional accessories like gloves, shoes, shoe-covers, eye protection, head/hair-cover, nose mask, fluid resistant apron, etc. Less the number of accessories we have to deal with, less the chances of virus breaching the gear and affecting the medical personnel. Following is the pictorial representation of this suggested PPE along with basic and the only three components in this suit along with their specification and idea behind the usage. I have also added the manufacturing and suit testing thoughts. As I am an individual, I do not own any facility where I can begin manufacturing and testing of this PPE but did not want to waste this idea just because I am not an organization or don’t own a factory to rollout the mass production of suit.
This should be made of any material that is suitable for humans to wear for extended lengths of time. PPE should be fitting the body and not too loose. Material should be purely resistant to liquids and gas as it will be subject to sanitization after each use and might have fluids over it during medical procedures / assistance. Material should stretch enough, giving more work-flexibility to each user and put less restriction on size limitations to certain level.
Even if the suit is a bit thick, the sections beyond wrists should be thinner and more flexible to allow all types of finger movements of medical personnel for extended time. The sole under the feet that is replacing shoe sole for the user should be extra tough and resistant to scratches, but flexible for walking. If not, user can wear any disposable covers over the inbuilt shoes if it makes them comfortable. After wearing this suit, one should get a feel that an additional layer of skin is covering their body.
User can put on this suit in any way they feel comfortable but best is to start with pants, fit the feet in inbuilt shoes, followed by initiating any inside-the-suit accessories / circuitry to be used, then wear the sleeves and finally the head cover. Once this is done, monitoring person will zip it up as a final step and you are good to go!
First of all, this is not a gap or open section on the suit as it might look in the picture. This portion is simply the inbuilt transparent part of suit which will allow the medical personnel to see without any additional face / eyes / nose protection. As it’s inbuilt, there are no gaps for virus or fluids so no worries of it getting wet during medical procedures or final stage of sanitization.
This part can be flat aligned with the suit or the implementation can be modified and a sophisticated technology can be installed here as far as it’s inbuilt and is part of the suit. This hi-tech portion can have some electronic arrangement inside for easy breathing and air circulation to avoid fog from inside. In addition, it can have a small mic inside for easy communication among medical personnel following a procedure or for communicating with remote facilities.
There are always higher chances of fluid touching / entering the suit of medical personnel from front while dealing with patients, than from back. This suit will only be operated from back side via a zipper, which is the only way in and out for any person using this suit, reducing the chances of fluid entering while coming in contact with patient fluids or anything hazardous from the front. At the same time, it is not impossible for fluid to enter from zipper in the back but it will most likely be an accidental incident. As this zipper ends above the waist, it will hardly catch any fluids at ground level, giving another level of protection.
Once the person is inside the suit, zipper will be operated by monitoring person. While wearing, it should be all clean so no worries. While taking it off after visiting patients, the monitor will first spray the suit (or personnel can pass through a shower which will sanitize the suit and zipper), and then monitor will open zipper so person can come out of the suit by themselves!
We can have provision of single or dual zipper, depending upon how we feel comfortable / safe. I will prefer single zipper, as in case of unpredictable emergency, medical personnel should be able to open single zipper quickly and get out of the suit themselves. As a step of caution, we should not allow any medical personnel to touch each other’s zipper while helping patients or when they are in contaminated facilities, to minimize the chances of infection at the zipper.
Manufacturing & Testing
There are mainly two ways of manufacturing this suit:
< > way is to produce different parts separately and then connect (either by using high-end adhesives or by melt-and-glue method) them together after testing them independently. After these parts are combined firmly, suit should have just one small hole on the back for testing. As the suit started in pieces, the face portion used should have already been installed with the face-cover mechanism. Pressurized air should now be injected to check for any air leaks and flexibility of suit skin. Test for liquid leaks should be done in any way possible for manufacturer. Once testing is over, suit should be cut from the back from location where we will install the zipper. The suit should be ready for use at this point as we have tested overall body (including zipper portion) and face sections.< > way is to manufacture the suit as one piece and take advantage of the fact that there are no joints and minimum possibility of gaps produced due to frequent usages at those joints. We can start by coating the material over a flexible dummy. Once material has taken final form, face portion should be installed with the face-cover mechanism and now pressurized air should be injected to release the layer of material from dummy surface and at the same time check for any air leaks and flexibility of suit skin. Test for liquid leaks should be done in any way possible for manufacturer. Till this point the suit will only have one hole on the back for testing and will still be on the dummy. Once testing is over, suit should be cut from the back from location where we will install the zipper and this opening should be used to take suit off from the dummy. The suit should be ready for use at this point as we have tested overall body (including zipper portion) and face sections.
There is no need for per se discarding these suits after certain number of usages. We can perform routine testing to verify if suit is undamaged and suitable for further usage just by sealing the zipper and following same air / liquid test procedures. Once done, we can remove the seal over the zipper and continue the usage of same suit, if suit passes the tests. These air and fluid tests are basically to make sure that the front portion of PPE is safe and without any leaks.
As this is a very simple (yet critical) suit, it has limited parts for discussion. This is the basic idea and can be expanded during implementation when unknown factors need to be considered as a part of suit manufacturing. Additional suggestions from medical personnel can also be included with the growth of usage of the suit. Thank you for this opportunity, consideration and time!