Look at this:
Scary huh? And it wants you to press your mouth against its cold, emotionless gape, breathing your very life's gases into its cavernous robot chest.
This is one of those manikins that teach people to do CPR, which we were using at work the other day to fine-tune our compressions-to-ventilations ratio. I think we got it cheap off a St John's ambulance chap who came round the back one day with it folded up in a suitcase. He said it was surplus to their requirements as they needed something more realistic and so were using Boy Scouts trying to earn their First Aid badges. This isn't as cruel as it sounds as apparently their pliable young ribcages just bounce right back into shape a couple of days later.
After seven or eight people had slobbered all over it's rubbery chops, including Herpes Keith and his Uncompromising Beard of Disease, we thought we'd better give it a bit of a wipe off. As an innate fiddler (I'm not proud of it), I discovered that it's face came right off, which made me feel a bit like an evil professor making a baddy robot to take on The Fall Guy, only when he was The Six Million US Dollars Man. (At current exchange rates, that's about four and half million quid, which seems quite reasonable considering the extent of his injuries.)
So after we had persuaded OCD Nick to clean the mask, simply by showing it to him and mouthing the word "Dirty" a few times, we took photos of the skull-like visage revelaed beneath, and examined out death-mimicking friend in more detail.
The manikin has computer jacks and USB ports in it, which you could link up to a laptop and simulate all sorts of problems that might necessitate a passing do-gooder to begin jumping up and down on their chest. If you've got the appropriate program (and the wherewithal to operate it), you can apparently simulate a pulse (or lack thereof), make it breathe in or even moan convincingly. You are then supposed to come to a conclusion about the cause of the collapse and take appropriate action, although I'm going to stick with the adage that, if they're blue and not breathing, this is classified as "A Bad Thing" so let's not worry about the cause and begin CPR.
Unless of course they're attached to the mains or marinating in a drum of Paraquat, in which case they're on their own.
Apparently these things are getting better and better at mimicking the collapsed person, which leads me to wonder what training manikins are going to be like in the future. To be effective, they're going to need to be as human-like as possible, right down to their internal organs perhaps. Our manikin has a couple of rubbery inflatable lungs and some ribbed tubing to imitate a trachea, but other than that, not much.
Casting a beady eye around t'internet, it does appear that we might be on our way to a higher evolutionary level of training manikin already, judging by this amazing Japanese robot:
I'm hoping that it's a bit more than a pretty Asimo with a rubber mask and a Fleshlight stapled to it (whatever one of those is).
Of course, these things cost a lot of dosh, but how much is too much, and who picks up the bill? Responsible employers? The state? The NHS?
All of this is beyond the scope of my, well, interest. I do think though, if CPR is to be taught, then we shouldn't be waiting for us all to be adults, where we do a one day course and then start eyeing up frail-looking old dears on the bus and hoping (not out loud) that they suddenly go down like a sack of spuds so we can leap up, say "Let me through, I'm a First Aider!" and begin massaging them back to life in front of an improbably attractive lady reporter who's Porsche broke down so she had take the bus and now has the story of the week and a strange tingling feeling as she takes photo after photo after photo . . .
No, we should be learning this stuff at school and then regulalry updating our skills as grown-ups.
It might be a challenge getting teeenagers to get motivated as learning CPR smacks of responsibility and education, which all right thinking 14-year-old boys want to avoid like deoderant and paper-rounds.
So how about teaching them using one of these things:
I bet they'd sidle in, even in their lunch break, just out of curiosity like, and then BLAM! - you educate 'em while they're not looking.
Actually, why should teenagers get the . . . er . . . life-like training manikin? There would probably be a few more volunteers for the First Aid at Work course if this was on offer. Then afterwards we could all have a bit of a party.
Anyone know where we can get a second hand one?
And some alcohol wipes?