Manchester Arena attack survivor helps NHS disaster training by creating makeup that looks like injuries

A Manchester Arena terrorist attack survivor now aims to help NHS disaster training - by creating special effect makeup that looks like traumatic injuries.

Yasmin Reevell, 24, was caught up in the attack at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more. After suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the blast, she enrolled on a media makeup degree at York College.

The course has led to her landing a job with medical prosthetics firm Simbodies, who create immersive training environments to help train the military and medical staff. Yasmin now produces fake bodies and body parts that are given to the NHS - so they know how to treat patients when incidents like the Manchester attack happens.

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She said: "Without the prosthetics and silicone dummies that we give to the military and NHS, they wouldn't know what to do when things like the Manchester attack happen. I've been doing the job for just over a month now and everything happens for a reason."

Yasmin Reevell graduating from York College.Yasmin Reevell graduating from York College.
Yasmin Reevell graduating from York College.

Although Yasmin wasn't injured in the blast, she saw the aftermath of it and still suffers from PTSD but for her final project on her college course, she chose to focus on the disorder to help 'educate people on the signs of it.'

Yasmin said: "My topic was PTSD. The tutors said, if I needed anything, they were there for me, and I found that choosing it helped me to focus on PTSD. I did wonder if it was the right thing to be doing but, in the grand scheme of things, I knew I'd been through enough to know how to deal with it. It was helping me and other people by shining a light on it.

"Not many people really know the effects of PTSD and how it can affect you, so I tried to show that with my images. I did an image with an MRI scan on the brain to demonstrate that PTSD is a mental condition and you can't always see it. Sometimes my PTSD can flare up and it's not always visible, so it's about educating people on the signs.

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"Another image I did was one with no facial features. There were no eyes or mouth to show the lack of presence in a person because there were a lot of times where I'd be disassociating. You're there and then you're not."

Yasmin Reevell graduating from York CollegeYasmin Reevell graduating from York College
Yasmin Reevell graduating from York College

Yasmin originally enrolled on a music degree at university but had to leave because her PTSD intensified, but she now says she is glad she completed her degree in makeup, because it was 'really good' and gave her the chance to also study special effects.

Yasmin, of York, said: "One of the main reasons I dropped out of my initial degree was because of PTSD. I was struggling and going through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Starting university at that point wasn't working for me. I had to choose one or the other and my mental health was something I needed to put first.

"During lockdown was when I started doing a lot more make-up. I thought that maybe I could do that as a degree. I knew York College already, because I'd been there before, so I felt I knew what I was doing.

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"I really liked the sound of the course, especially as it had three different aspects to it - hair, media make-up and special effects. I had to do a portfolio at the beginning to demonstrate that I could do make-up and, from the moment I started the degree, it was really good.