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Protecting our heroes with high performance plastics

This has been a difficult year for the many Americans who have experienced wildfires and storm-related flooding. So it’s also a fitting time to honor the heroes who put their lives on the line to protect us. They run into burning homes, brave floodwaters, battle raging wildfires, and help stop epidemics.

To honor those who protect us, Plastics Make it Possible® on October 13 launched “Protecting Our Heroes: A Tribute to Safety and Innovation,” an online gallery, video, and traveling exhibit. The online gallery features a dozen everyday heroes from across the country, tells their personal stories of harrowing experiences on the job, and pays tribute to the brave women and men who protect us from harm day in and day out.

The video—viewed hundreds of thousands of times in its first week—profiles a search-and-rescue specialist who helps save victims in floods, a smokejumper who parachutes into remote locations to fight wildfires, and the nation’s first female bomb technician.

It’s also fitting to highlight the personal protective equipment (PPE) that helps these heroes do their jobs, much of which relies on high-performance plastics. The very nature of plastics—lightweight yet strong and tough—enables PPE that is easier to wear for longer periods of time and that helps protect against many risks, including bullets, heat, water, debris, and contaminants.  High-performance plastics provide a critical combination of strength, durability, and mobility.

Many visitors to the pop-up exhibit in Boston were astonished that so much of the gear that protects our protectors is made with plastics. Several were particularly surprised to learn that so-called “bulletproof” vests worn by police and others are made with high-performance plastic fabrics that are lightweight and comfortable—and tough enough to provide reassurance and security.

As our nation responds to disasters, it is indeed fitting to pay tribute to those who protect us. And to the gear that helps protect them. These heroes do their jobs much more safely due to their innovative plastic protective gear. They rely on their gear to jump out of airplanes into wildfires, to detect bombs on the battlefield, and to make their way through flooded cities to save people from drowning. And to stop epidemics. Or even a bullet. And plastics makers are proud to have a role in protecting the brave Americans who protect us all.

The next “Protecting Our Heroes” pop-up exhibit will be at Greystone in Piedmont Park in Atlanta from October 20–22. And we are planning to host more exhibits in 2018.

In the meantime, I encourage you to watch our video and visit our online gallery at

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