All the dummies have been dudes, until now

Kaylah Jackson
December 07, 2018 - 12:43 pm

(Photo courtesy of SIMETRI, Inc.)

When soldiers are trained on how to care for a casualty in a combat zone, they learn basics from tying tourniquets to caring for sucking chest wounds. What soldiers don’t train on, is how to address these injuries when they happen to a female soldier, until now.

Dr. Teresita Sotomayor, a Science Technology Manager at the Simulation Training and Technology Center, in Orlando, Florida has been researching the development of female mannequins for the U.S. Army since the summer of 2015.

“When talking to trainers and people who have been in combat theater, they have told me they have seen the hesitation of soldiers,” recalls Dr. Sotomayor. “It’s like throwing them a curveball. They're not trained to deal with simple things like letting them remove the bra and exposing the chest to make sure there are no injuries, that’s what they’re missing. They’re missing injuries because they’re not properly undressing the females because they’re not used to it in training."

Sotomayor and Angela Alban, President, and CEO of SIMETRI are hoping to change that. 

“We had seen that there were no female models anywhere. They were all in the forms of male simulated casualties,” said Alban. “We proposed to the Army Research Lab to develop something that would allow them [U.S. Army] to reconfigure those existing assets to look like a female.”

First, SIMETRI, chose a globally-sold mannequin that mimics a small-framed individual (to closely resemble a woman’s body). Next, the pair worked on developing overlapping features such as genitalia and facial structures to transform the mannequin into a woman.

By training on both male and female mannequins, soldiers could essentially save more lives.

“We hypothesize that at the point of injury during which a male emergency care provider might be required to expose and or touch a female soldier’s body part, the lack of proper training can induce hesitation, which could potentially compromise the chance of saving a critically injured female soldier,” said Dr. Sotomayor.

“The data shows that in a combat environment the survivability rate of females is lower than the males when in contrast to civilian data that shows the opposite," explains Sotomayor.

According to the Joint Theater Trauma Registry which analyzed Mortality in Female War Veterans during OEF and OIF, the most common injuries of servicewomen who died were abdomen body-specific.

(Photo courtesy of SIMETRI, Inc.)

Dr. Sotomayor says her research team is continuing to develop modules that more closely resemble females, including in how they respond to injury.

“The military does an excellent job of innovation and not just training gaps, but to include caring for women as well,” said Alban.

The overlays and female models are currently available in the SIMETRI catalog and the company is working to market the models to all of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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