It is not always easy or appropriate to have a human playing the role of the victim during lifeguard training. Submerged victim rescues are particularly difficult because humans cannot always stay on the bottom long enough for novice rescuers to perform a correct rescue. During those beginning practice sessions, a submersible manikin can be very helpful.
Rescue manikins can be used for a variety of skill drills, including the following:
- Surface dive and retrieve
- Swim, surface dive, and retrieve
- Swim, surface dive, retrieve, and carry back
- Spinal injury retrieve
- Spinal injury retrieve and carry back
- Spinal injury rescue and backboard placement
- Spinal injury rescue, backboard, and strap down
- Timed swim with victim carry
- Other drills involving the use of a diving brick
- Transition from water rescue to deck resuscitation
Submersible manikins are available commercially in full-body and torso-only sizes. You can also design a submersible manikin from a store clothing manikin made of plastic or fiberglass. Add weight to the hollow interior of the manikin. Then, just add a swimsuit or other clothing.
- Dress the manikin. Clothing will change the surface texture, making the manikin more difficult to grasp.
- Vary the setting for the manikin drills. In open water, it may be impossible to find a manikin without hand searching the lake or river bottom. If using a manikin in open water, be sure to use cross bearings to establish the manikin drop location. Monitor the current for possible shifts in the manikin’s location once submerged.
- Vary the victim size and weight by using child manikins as well as adult manikins.
- Using manikins of different skin color, particularly during open-water training, can challenge the lifeguards’ victim recognition skills.
- Blindfold the rescuer for an additional challenge.