Risk Management in Action

April 08, 2011

Five Elements for Successful Red Manikin Drill Implementation

Lori K. Miller, Ed.D., J.D.
Sport Law Professor
Sport Management Department
Wichita State University

Shelley C. Rich, M. Ed.
Associate Director of Programs
Aquatics and Risk Management
Wichita State University


Recreation literature contains abundant publications addressing risk management and related topics, e.g., risk management plan design, training, implementation, evaluation, and refinement. Similarly, risk management topics often dominate recreational personnel discussions, e.g., meeting agendas, security considerations. However, the actual implementation, staff training, evaluation, and resultant policy modifications often present challenging dilemmas for recreational administrators confronted with risk management responsibilities. This article illustrates an effective risk management practice, i.e., the Red Manikin Drill, that can be adopted and implemented by campus recreation departments desiring to enhance their staff’s response and rescue effectiveness. Five areas important to the Drill’s short- and long-term success are identified below.

Five Elements Contributing to a Successful Red Manikin Drill Implementation

1. Gain the Approval from Supervisors and Administrators
Gaining the approval and support of supervisors and administrators is essential. Without the recommended administrator approval and support, any discontentment expressed by a staff member(s) or recreation participant(s) can devastate the Drill’s continued existence, while also jeopardizing the staff’s ability to provide confidently an appropriate and effective emergency response.

2. Introduce the Red Manikin Drill to Certified Recreation Staff
Staff receptiveness to the Drill implementation is facilitated and enhanced when all involved parties clearly understand why the campus recreation department is making the necessary investments (time, financial support, policy modification, etc.) that accompany the Drill’s implementation.

3. Modify Select Organizational Documents
Verbal assertions regarding the Drill’s adoption and implementation are legitimized when select written documents affirm staff participation and performance expectations. Further, inclusion in appropriate written documents (operational policies, job descriptions, staff evaluation instruments) conveys the department’s awareness, concern, and commitment to ongoing risk management practices.

4. Staging the Red Manikin Drill: the “Who, When, and Where”
The campus recreation department’s risk management coordinator (or staff with assigned risk management responsibilities) decides when and where the Drill is to be staged and all certified emergency personnel (including administrators) are expected to participate if appropriate. Routine data collection and analyses provides insightful information regarding when and where the Drill should be staged. For example, staging the Drill exercise in areas experiencing high student traffic and frequent and/or severe injuries is prudent and logical.

5. The post-Drill communication, documentation, and evaluation processes
The overall success of the Drill exercise requires prompt and succinct performance feedback, including comments regarding staff performance strengths as well as areas of needed improvement.


The Red Manikin Drill provides recreational entity’s and their constituents numerous benefits. Research by McGregor and Associates identifies six recreation industry areas of responsibility most important to the reduction of risk occurrences and the professional implementation of risk management practices. The six categories most directly related to the recreation entity’s ability to reduce preventable risks while also better ensuring that encountered emergency situations are handled professionally include (1) general administration, (2) emergency response planning, (3) supervision, (4) training, (5) facilities and equipment, and (6) documentation.

The Red Manikin Drill presented above positively influences each of these six categories:
1) General administration’s support and involvement in the Red Manikin Drill clearly communicates the administration’s commitment to a professional risk management culture.
2) The Red Manikin Drill transforms static, written emergency response plans and policies to life, allowing for the ongoing emergency response professional development and opportunities to practice learned skills.
3) Decisions regarding the actual time and location of the staged Red Manikin Drill reinforce the need for, and corresponding value of, a supervisor’s assessment initiatives. For example, data maintained and analyzed on participant use (e.g., facility(ies), programs, and events) and injury occurrences (e.g., type of injury, injury site) assist recreation supervisory decision making in regards to the responsible implementation of the Red Manikin Drill and other risk management training details.
4) Similar to comments mentioned above, scheduled Red Manikin Drill practices perpetuate ongoing professional development trainings, skill improvement, documentation regarding employee goals, skill performance, and communicated evaluation outcomes.
5) The Red Manikin Drill exercises communicates to all recreation constituencies the entity’s commitment to the maintenance of an exemplary risk management culture, a culture proven to preserve investments made in the entity’s recreation facilities and equipment.
6) The adoption and implementation of the Red Manikin Drill exercise reduces risk related to staff and participant challenges by formalizing, communicating, and preserving the Drill-related expectations and performance outcomes throughout the entity’s organizational handbooks, policies, job descriptions, staff evaluation documents, and injury incident reports.
Risk management initiatives like the Red Manikin Drill are undoubtedly time consuming and challenging given the needed administrator support, document modifications, cooperative staff, and committed resources (personnel time, supplies). However, a quote by Winston Churchill succinctly articulates the rewards that can be realized from the adoption and implementation of the Red Manikin Drill.

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

For more information on our Online Courses,
contact us now!