What is Moulage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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Moulage is a special makeup technique used to create simulations of real wounds for practice scenarios used to train first responders. Many moulage technicians use the same techniques utilized in Hollywood movies, with an extra emphasis on realistic wounds to make the practice scenario feel as immediate as possible. People pretending to be victims in the scenario may be moulaged, and moulage can also be applied to dummies.

Practice scenarios are widely viewed as a very important part of emergency medical training. Such scenarios give students a chance to practice emergency medicine in a non-crisis situation, and they also expose students to the kinds of situations and injuries they might encounter on the job. While these scenarios can feel so realistic in the moment that practitioners sometimes forget themselves, there is a big difference between encountering a brilliantly moulaged compound fracture, and seeing such a fracture in real life in an emergency situation.

A wide number of first responder organizations use moulage in practice situations. Military doctors, corpsmen, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers, emergency physicians, and nursing students often experience practice scenarios during their training. It is common for members of a class to switch off, with one group being victims one day, and the other group being victims on the next, and actors may also be specially hired to supplement the ranks of the wounded.


Some examinations used to test readiness for a job in emergency medicine may integrate practice scenarios, along with oral interviews and written exams. From the point of view of the people certifying first responders, theoretical knowledge is useless if someone loses his or her head in a real emergency. Moving a class through a traumatic scenario can allow the students to demonstrate their abilities, and to learn more about areas in which they might need improvement.

Moulage can take the form of simple makeup, but it often includes fake wounds made from latex, complex prosthetics, and well-staged scenes. A good moulage technician can fake a severed limb, mangle a car accident victim, or apply more subtle injuries which require careful attention and a meticulous patient interview. In a typical crisis situation, if students fail to respond or don't catch problems, their patients “die,” which tends to reflect poorly on their abilities.

Several firms specialize in moulage, sometimes doing work in the film industry along with work for first responders. Large colleges and schools with a big medical training department may also have a moulage department, ensuring that a steady supply of well-faked wounds is available for lecture and practice.


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