Our old friend heuristics (fancy word for brain shortcuts) may be meeting its match. While heuristics help our brain make decisions faster, they also come with the heavy baggage of leading us to make assumptions. Our brains' tendencies to follow the well traveled pathway is why practicing CPR skills is so important. We are more likely to react the same way we have practiced. The more you practice, the more likely you are to be able to rely on these heuristics.
The sad part about teaching CPR/FirstAid is that we are all too often handicapped by the materials we have access to and the time-frame for skill practice. One way manikins have both excelled and fallen short, is that people are more likely to give bystander CPR when the situation looks familiar. The multiple skin-tone options that are now available are a step in the right direction. (Although I still wish there were even more options.) One statistic that has bothered me is how women are less likely to receive bystandar CPR than men are. According the the journal Circulation (vol 139 no 8), as reported in a recent article by HSI, and as I have often heard from my students; the main reasons include:
Fear of lawsuit for sexual harassment
Worry that women's bodies are more fragile and therefore compressions will cause more damage
Lack of understanding of the different heart attack symptoms experienced by women
Lack of familiarity with the similarities between male and female anatomy
A few years ago, the Womanikin provided a sewing pattern to make jackets to put on manikins that would mimic the female form. Instructors without sewing skills however, were not provided with an easy way to build this into class options. While the ECC 2020 videos have addressed the use of male manikins in the name of cultural sensitivity. While commendable with the goal of training as many people as possible, there also needs to be understanding that not just skin tone is not the only way our manikins need to look like our participants. I must say thank you to Prestan manikins for finally coming up with a way to give students as many learning options as possible. It may look a bit like a bikini top but it is better than any other option we have had so far. I'm very hopeful this little foam piece will start to make a difference.