Milan woman makes
Part theatre makeup artist and part mad scientist, Birgit Hawkins
of Milan, uses skills learned several years ago in her native
Germany to create realistic looking accident victims used during
training sessions for various agencies in the area.
Hawkins studied cosmetology in Germany for six years learning
everything possible in the theatre makeup trade. Because her husband
was in the military, Hawkins and her family moved often making
it difficult to find employment using her talents.
Instead, she would help with the makeup in school productions.
Hawkins even applied for a position at Disneyland in California,
but was told she was over-qualified.
Currently, Hawkins is an EMT with the Milan and Dillsboro Rescue
Units. It was a chance invitation to assist with training that
changed her life forever.
According to Hawkins, when she receives a scenario for a mock
disaster, she determines what type of injuries will be seen during
that particular disaster. I try to prepare people for what
they will see in a real-life situation, she noted.
There are many everyday items that Hawkins uses in her creations
such as beauty masks and scrubs or even more exotic items such
as animal bones and internal organs purchased from the butcher
This Spring the Osgood Volunteer Fire Department staged a disaster
at the Jac-Cen-Del school where multiple injuries were sustained
due to a mock gas explosion. Hawkins was on hand to make up the
many participants, which was quite a challenge.
Sometimes Hawkins will spend several hours researching a project.
She draws from real life incidents by viewing pictures of accidents
on the Internet. I like the challenge, Hawkins said.
I strive to make people wonder if it is real.
Her children love helping with projects, according to Hawkins.
While three of her four children are no longer living at home,
her youngest son, Jason, a sophomore at Milan High School, still
helps out. My son is my guinea pig, she told the
What she sees as an EMT motivates her to do what she does so well.
What a person sees as an EMT stays with you, she said.
Hawkins plans to continue her work with the training sessions
as long as possible. If they need me, Im there,
Birgit Hawkins uses everyday
items to create realistic looking injuries for training
sessions for emergency personnel in Ripley County. Pictured
above, Hawkins creates facial injury on willing "victim"
Joe Ullmann, fellow EMT at the Dillsboro Rescue Unit. Pictured
below is a close-up of her work.