Wednesday, November 7, 2007


For almost 15 years I've been a volunteer Red Cross instructor. I have taught First Aid, CPR for adults, children and infants at the citizen responder (regular folks) level, AED, CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Infectious Disease Transmission. Every few years the Red Cross changes the curriculum. Every few years the manikins change too.

I've worked with seven different manikins over the years, five in the past, two now:
  • Resusci Annie, a life-size, full-body, heavy-weight female manikin who is normally reserved for professional level classes. The Cadillac of manikins, some models can be plugged into a computer -- she's expensive.
  • Crash Kelly, now passe, thank goodness. He was a major pain in the derriere to put together, but a workhorse once he was assembled. Like most adult manikins, he was just head and torso, no arms or legs.
  • Chris Clean, my personal favorite, a head and torso manikin that was medium-weight but easy to assemble -- his rubber face (nose, mouth, chin and cheeks) popped on and off for easy cleaning.
  • The babies and Actar -- more about them below.

The old baby manikin was a fairly realistic, life size doll in an ugly pair of striped shorts. His legs bowed out like a cowboy or a frog on the dissection table. The whole front of his head was a latex mask that buttoned on behind his ears. When his face was off he looked like something you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. When his face was on he looked enough like a real baby that he creeped out some students. Because of this, I named him "Mutant Vampire Frog Baby."

I call the current baby manikins "Mutant Alien Vampire Frog Babies." They don't have the secret vampire face under a latex mask, but they still have frog's legs. They are hollow silver plastic with pop off heads and bitty plastic lungs that get buttoned to their chests under a blue foam tabard that snaps on at the crotch. They get toted around in a special zipper bag with "Actar Infantry" printed on it. Students find them much less distressing to work with than the old realistic baby manikins. You have to be very careful how you handle the new babies, though, or their heads fall off.

Now-a-days the primary manikins are cheaper and lighter. As well serving as an adult, they stand in for Little Timmy, which I guess is okay since, with no legs, they're short enough. Actar comes in four pieces, a hollow white plastic head, a corrugated black plastic cylinder that functions as a rib cage, a plastic bag lung and a blue foam sheet with three holes in it that the head and two ends of the rib cage cylinder get plugged into. When we get to the part of the class that requires the manikins, I have each student pick up the four pieces of Actar then guide them in putting him together.

I kinda miss Chris Clean, he was my main man for a few years. In fact, I bought my Mazda 626 based partially on being able to fit six Chris cases, a TV, a VCR and a box of supplies in it (amazing how much you can stuff into a hatch back) because I drove all over the western end of North Carolina certifying adult Girl Scouts.

I could never get that serious about Actar; he works, but he ain't no Chris Clean.


Wendy said...

Hi -
This is Wendy from the American Red Cross national headquarters. Part of my job is to look for mentions of the Red Cross in the blogosphere. I've seen a LOT of blog posts and I have to say this one just might be my all-time favorite. May I repost with attribution to the Red Cross blog?

nameless to protect the innocent said...

I drove around for a few weeks with a manikin in my car....DH used to be a firefighter and a spare dummy made it's way home with him....

the reactions I got were hystarical.....I think I kept "Todd" longer than I needed to because of them....

Wunx~ said...

Hey Wendy and Nameless --

No problem, Wendy, but I am planning to make a couple of changes and maybe illustrations, so you might want to screen it first. ;-)

I've heard of people trying to use manikins to get into the high occupancy traffic lane -- and getting popped by the police. Todd would be a whole lot classier than the traditional blow-up love doll, but the cops probably would still not be amused.

bioephemera said...

i am going to have nightmares about those grey alien babies!!

Diane A. said...

Hi there! I actually have a "chris Clean'. Is there any use for him now? I would like to sell him. Any ideas?