(CNN) — CPR mannequins are getting breasts — with the goal of saving women’s lives.
The so-called Womanikin is an attachment for flat-chested CPR dummies that aims to change the finding that women are 27% less likely than men to receive CPR if they suffer from a cardiac arrest in public.
Researchers suspect bystanders’ reluctance to touch the chest of women they don’t know might play a role.
So, the New York ad agency JOAN Creative, along with the organization United State of Women, created the Womanikin to try to normalize performing CPR on women.
“The vast majority of us learn on a flat-chested torso. This universal attachment will change that. The Womanikin won’t solve everything, but it’s a step in the right direction,” JOAN co-founder and chief creative officer Jaime Robinson told CNN.
Robinson’s team wanted to create a product that is easy to replicate so instructors and schools can adopt it in CPR training classes, she said. Anyone can download the Womanikin builder’s toolkit from the open-sourced website and construct their own following the instructions.
“Witnessing a CPR class using the Womanikin, we also noticed the attachment offered a natural conversation starter to discuss this issue,” Robinson said. “It’s out of the ordinary, so people talk about it. Creating awareness so people act when they have to is our primary goal.”
The goal is to have CPR trainees use the Womanikin in classes across the country by the end of 2020, Robinson said. JOAN Creative has an ongoing partnership with Frontline CPR in New York, with other partnerships in the works that could lead to wider national adoption, she said.
‘Yes, this will mean you are touching her breast’
This is how creators describe the correct hand position on the Womanikin’s website:
“When performing chest compressions, locate the end of the person’s breastbone where their ribs come together. Place the heel of one hand 2 inches from the breastbone, closest to the person’s face. Place the free hand on top of the other, interlocking your fingers. Yes, this will mean you are touching her breast. Don’t worry. You might save her life.”
Besides challenging CPR norms, JOAN Creative and United State of Women hope to raise general awareness as cardiac arrest is still largely seen as a “man’s issue,” Robinson said.
The project, which began as a self-funded endeavor, recently won a grant that will allow it to create more Womanikins to distribute to schools across the United States, she added. It also solicits donations.
“Since survival from cardiac arrest depends on the prompt delivery of CPR by a bystander, we need to think of ways to make CPR training more accessible to everyone and for everyone,” Audrey L. Blewer, epidemiologist and resuscitation scientist at the Duke University School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, told Campaign Live.
“We also need to consider ways to raise awareness around sudden cardiac arrest, address these known gender disparities, and empower more people to perform CPR if needed.”