‘Man overboard’ mannikin aids Sidmouth lifeboat training exercises

L-R Sidmouth Lifeboat crew members Emma Douglas, Dave Pearce and Martin Barnard, with the mannikin.

L-R Sidmouth Lifeboat crew members Emma Douglas, Dave Pearce and Martin Barnard, with the mannikin. Picture: Charli Ferrand. - Credit: Archant

Rescue training scenarios have become a lot more realistic for Sidmouth Lifeboat crew, thanks to the latest addition to their numbers.

They have acquired a life-size training mannikin that replicates, as closely as possible, an unconscious human being.

The mannikin, nicknamed 'Fred', is being used in training scenarios where it would be dangerous for a crew member to play the casualty.

It is made of tough nylon mesh filled will closed-cell foam and shale-filled weights, and weighs about 40kg when dry and at least 70kg when wet.

Crew member Charli Ferrand said: "He is the weight of an adult human, the size of an adult human and has limbs that move like an unconscious adult human.

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"We have been training with 'Fred' in the last month, he's a very new addition to our crew, and it allows our scenario training to go much deeper.

"We often play the casualty in first-aid scenarios but you can't fake being unconscious, you'll tense up or move your limbs or have a reflex."

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Of course, neither can the mannikin give feedback or respond in the same way as a semi-conscious casualty, and the crew take this into account.

Charli said: "We will often do a scenario with the mannikin, and then replace it with one of us.

"We'll try it ourselves because it's really important to understand what the casualty's feeling if they're conscious, making sure what we do is comfortable and not causing any pain, understanding what it feels like to be lifted around.

"It's good for us to experience being a casualty in those scenarios and understand what they're going through.

"The mannikin won't replace scenario training with ourselves, but will enhance it."

The crew train regularly all year round and do not hold extra sessions during the busier seasons, but they do tailor their training to the more likely scenarios.

They anticipate more injuries on land during the summer season, and also expect a few incidents on the water when the first warmer days bring people out, sometimes in boats that have not been maintained over the winter.

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