Laerdal v Brayden CPR Manikins; Which is the Better Dummy?

Laerdal v Brayden; Which is the Best Dummy Saving Lives_Get someone talking about dummies in Australia and the conversation can become confusing pretty fast. Once you figure out you’re not talking about that neighbour who lives two doors down —  as in “he’s such a dummy” — then you have to separate the pacifier from the manikin.

For anyone who doesn’t have a wee one at home, dummies are a normal part of life raising a baby (at least down under). A dummy in this context is another word for what new parents put in the baby’s mouth to make Baby hush for a minute.

You may know it as a pacifier or a binky. Same thing.

Finally, don’t type Manikin into Google without adding CPR to the subject. You’ll get a bunch of wonderful, lifeless models manufactured for displaying fashion.

In the case of the latter, the two terms — manikin versus mannequin — are only interchangeable insomuch that they’re both depictions of a human form, but for wildly different purposes.

A Manikin is the sort medical professionals will most likely encounter in Advanced Life Support (ALS) training.

Dummies like this come in many shapes and sizes to cover a wide scope of training variables. Most versions you’ll encounter are for the aforementioned ALS or CPR training, but there are versions for training to work with infants. In this case, we're not talking about pacifying them.

Let’s consider the variables...


CPR Training

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In the most simple terms, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) forms the foundation of basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS).

To confuse matters, the use of CPR manikins is widely accepted as the best means to teach people how to apply life-saving techniques. Nobody calls them BLS or ALS manikins.

As a standalone, however, CPR is quite limited in scope compared to even a small step up to basic life support. For this reason, most anyone reading this blog will not consider basic CPR as a complete way to save someone’s life.

That said if you’re in the outback with no AED, and no other supplies, CPR will be your only means to keep someone from crossing into the afterlife.

It seems, all the manikins in the world can’t do much to save someone whose heart has stopped, but for around 1 per cent of the cases.

Despite that grim fact, it’s still worth training with a manikin, reasons for which we'll go into in a minute. The most obvious of these is this: If it was your 1 per cent chance of survival, you’d hope that someone had trained with a CPR manikin.


Basic Life Support

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Depending on the organization with which you train, the details of your BSL training may vary somewhat. They’ll generally include the following: airway management, preservation of circulation, and any emergency care.

Where CPR training comes up short is with the body outside the cardiopulmonary system, like when someone has a severed femoral artery. It’s no good to keep oxygen moving through the brain if blood is flowing from the body like the river Murray.

By definition of the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC), BSL is, “The preservation of life by the initial establishment of, and/or maintenance of, airway, breathing, circulation and related emergency care, including [the] use of an AED.”

This is a little more than simple CPR, but folks do sometimes use these terms interchangeably. We talked about this in our blog: CPR vs. AED; When to Drop the Paddles.

The confusion is understanding considering there is only a slight uptick in care, and they both training protocols use CPR manikins. Few medical professionals will bother with a simple BSL certification as there are few jobs where an employer will accept it as sufficient training.


Advanced Life Support


This is the training where the CPR manikin really starts to pay off. These are the standards of level one ALS training:

  • Recognition, assessment and management of the critically ill patient using a structured ABCDE approach (aiming to prevent cardiac arrest)
  • Airway management skills
  • Basic Life Support
  • Defibrillation skills (Manual and/or AED modes)
  • Cardiac arrest management using the ARC ALS Algorithm
  • Work as an effective team member in a cardiac arrest

Note the third item on that list, BSL. It’s only one of six facets. Every bullet point on that list, except maybe the last one, mandates the use of effective CPR manikin.

Also note, there is more than one level to the ALS certifications, level one and level two, both regulated by ARC in Australia.

From their site, “The adult advanced life support courses are standardised national courses teaching evidence-based resuscitation guidelines and skills to healthcare professionals.”

With ALS training, there is no discrepancy in the training. Every approved training centre, meaning 100 per cent of them, use the exact same training guides and standards.

What might vary from location to location is the exact CPR manikins used. We’ll get to that in a second, but restaurant assured, there will be manikins.

In addition to the Australian Defense Force, these are the schools that recognise ARC’s standards for ALS certification.

  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
  • College of Intensive Care Medicine
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • Australian College of Nursing
  • Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians

You can be sure your employer or potential employer will too.

In the CPR manikin business, there is one name that has been the standard for a long time.


Laerdal Manikins


Begun in Norway in 1940, Laerdal medical started out in publishing and toy-making. It was a far cry from making tools to save lives, but stranger histories have been parts of successful businesses.

It was only 11 years into doing business that Laerdal started manufacturing dolls, a foreshadowing of their future to come. It was Laerdal that set the standard of “Resusci Anne,” which remains the name of most CPP manikins, Annie.

Anyone who’s ever worked with a CPR manikin knows the expression, “Annie, Annie, are you okay?”

The response to Resusci Anne was so positive, Laerdal developed more and more tools for CPR and CPR training. For most of their existence, Laerdal has remained unchallenged by serious competition.

In recent history, however, the Brayden company has made a serious go at Laerdal’s market.


Brayden Manikins


In 2016, Brayden rolled out a new sort of CPR manikin, which won design awards and stole some Laerdal limelight.

In addition to the features found on Laerdal’s manikins, the functional neck, mouth, chest cavity, and airway, the Brayden version includes animated lights.

Those lights in the Brayden manikin show trainees the flow of oxygen from their efforts. The idea is to train them to connect the rate and effect of their CPR work so they can grow a natural intuition about pace when the inevitable happens.

During a real situation, everyone's adrenaline kicks in because of the obvious. someone’s life is on the line. It’s hard not to lose one’s perception. Brayden's design intends to lower that anxiety through better training.


Laerdal versus Brayden

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While the Brayden model is flashy, they’re up against a leviathan with Laerdal. Case in point, take a look at our complete supply of manikins. It is heavily outweighed on the Laerdal side.

The top of the line Brayden manikin is not a cheap purchase at $650, but most who’ve used it will argue it’s money well spent. They do offer a less-techno version for $400.

Besides a longer history, what Laerdal has going for it is a broader range of manikins. They offer junior and mini sizes, in addition to variances in ethnic features, and full-sized manikins for training trauma.

As mentioned, there is more to ALS than chest compressions. People collapse for many reasons, which may include lacerations, severed limbs or worse.

Experienced practitioners know that one treats the whole patient, not just the light up the top half.

For all practical training, the Brayden CPR manikin will do a superb job for training anyone how to keep oxygen to the brain. It will come up short training for children and trauma cases.

For those situations, you’ll want to have access to some of Laerdal’s manikins.

Here’s the good news. There is nothing preventing any trainer or group from mixing and matching from both manufacturers.

In the end, it’s better to not be a dummy. You want to do whatever it takes to simulate every possible situation, even if that means mixing and matching brands like Laerdal and Brayden.

As a strategic rule of emergency training, you don’t want trainees to have to think once an emergency happens. By then it will be too late. Overcome with adrenaline, they’ll be in the corner sucking on a dummy… er, a pacifier.

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