By Hannah D. Martin-Brown, Graduate Diploma of Archaeology and Heritage Management Student
When dealing with a site like a Mental Institution, one would expect to find items that are, shall we say, different, even slightly scary. But who would have thought the most terrifying items would be simply used for training purposes?
From the late 1800s and well into the 1900s nurses were trained at hospitals in an apprenticeship-style of learning. This meant that hospitals had to develop their own libraries and training equipment to ensure the best training for their nurses.
The first item we spotted took a moment to identify its purpose,
The mouth and nose both have holes in them and a tube that led to a balloon under a wooden panel. That’s when we realised: it was for practicing mouth to mouth resuscitation. Simple.
Next we found a severed arm!!!
At least that’s what it looked like.
It had tubes that ran to a bottle, with a balloon attached to it. It became clear that this was for blood drawing practice. They would pump the “blood” from the bottle, through the arm then draw it with a needle. The truly terrifying thing about this device was the fact that for at least 14 years the liquid in the bottle and arm had been sitting there growing mold. The veins were green. And don’t get me started on what was in the bottle. Oh, the horror!
But perhaps the most terrifying of all was found lying behind some boxes.
At first we thought it was just a mannequin, but once we got it out we realised it was yet another training device.
We believe the red dots were for procedures, though we weren’t sure what kind, but we could also see bandages with stitches in them, which, as a purpose, was a bit more obvious—after all stitching practice is very important for nurses and of course patients.
Despite the disturbing appearance of these objects, they played an important role in training nurses, making them very valuable finds.