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For those of you who haven’t met him, I have a silent business partner. His name is Robin although, the people at Laerdal call him item number 18001201.

Robin is a Laerdal Resusci Junior Water Rescue & CPR manikin and I get a lot of questions about him. This isn’t a sales pitch for Laerdal. I’m not a fan of all their gear but this particular piece, I am. In fact, I’d go as far to say that, having had one, I’d never be without one.

He’s a soft plastic resuscitation manikin about the size of a 5-year-old kid that you can use in water. He can sink to the bottom of the pool or float on the surface with his legs dangling down.

He comes with his own set of clothes and a hard case to store him in. He has a large plastic pin through his hip section that when removed, allows you to remove his legs. In this way he fits inside the case. He’s easy to disassemble for drying. He has interchangeable faces so that you don’t have to disinfect faces between different lifeguards doing CPR and he has disposable plastic airway & lungs.

I’ve made a few adjustments to mine. Out of the box his hair is the same colour as his skin so I painted his hairline with a surface preparation and then black enamel paint. It’s now started to wear off on the high spots and it looks quiet realistic. I’ve stuck the silver AED trainer sticker from his shoulder to his hip. I’ve also bought him a new set of swimmers so that he looks more like the ‘real kids’ at the pool.

I find him really useful for 4 distinct tasks;

High fidelity training; In the past I’ve had lifeguards rescue a real person from the bottom of the pool, get them out on deck and then change over to a manikin to do CPR. With Robin there’s no break in continuity. The person you rescue is the person you do CPR on, right through to using oxygen, insertion of a cut down oropharyngeal (Guedel) airway and AED trainer. Full of water his weight is real to life when rescuing him from the bottom.

Spinal immobilisation training; Most groups I train are small groups so Robin frees up a person who normally lies on the board learning bugger all. Teaching new lifeguards spinal work is slow and the person on the board is usually freezing; no complaints from Robin. Sure he’s child sized but the practice is the same. Robin, strapped to a board, also alleviates the manual handling aspect during training; he’s lighter than a real person. Certainly after the team get a grasp of the skills we progress to a real person. You’ll never beat the real thing.

I bought a Laerdal paediatric stifneck collar but it really doesn’t work/fit. I’ve even fitted it on my daughter and it still didn’t work/fit. I couldn’t recommend these.

First Aid training; slings, immobilisation bandaging, splinting, use of a EpiPen trainer… the list goes on. Robin is able to be used for them all.

Dummy drops; dressed in a long sleeve red sun shirt no one can claim I’m hiding him down there. Having said that, you try and buy a red swim shirt; they’re mostly blue or black. If we have trouble seeing a red shirt, how will we go with a blue one. Robin has been instrumental in teaching lifeguards and me how hard it actually is to see a kid on the bottom. You have to be much closer than you think. Dummy drops are the real thing. It removes all the guess work. I can’t overstate how useful Robin has been in this respect.

Tips;

  • They’re expensive; like AU$2100 expensive. Look after it.
  • If you’re thinking about getting the electronic CPR skill guide thingy with it, then you can’t put it in the pool. I modified Robin’s twin brother from skill guide mode to water rescue mode for the crew at the Goldfield’s Oasis in Kalgoorlie but it is not a quick process. It’s not the kind of thing you’d do routinely.
  • Don’t pick him up by the head or arms when it’s full of water; let it drain first.
  • Use a pool pole to move him around the pool if you don’t want to be getting wet every time.
  • Always pull him apart and let him dry after use. Wash and dry his clothes.
  • For dummy drops I remove the airway and lungs and replace them with the end cap from an old airway/lungs. Having the end cap only means you can still fit the face to the manikin but you don’t have to dry out the lungs if your just doing dummy drops and not CPR.
  • Thoroughly warn everyone in the centre before you do dummy drops. Parents especially, can get freaked out; he looks very real. Even after they are told other kids will be very inquisitive. Make use of this. It will give you a good indication of what a kid on the bottom will look like amongst other kids in the pool.

Conclusion; expensive? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

If you have other questions let me know.