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The Life and Times of Resusci Annie     History of CPR

History of CPR

Modern CPR developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  The discoverers of mouth-to-mouth ventilation were Drs. James Elam and Peter Safar.  Though mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was described in the Bible (mostly performed by midwives to resuscitate newborns) it fell out of practice until it was rediscovered in the 1950s.  In early 1960 Drs. Kouwenhoven, Knickerbocker, and Jude discovered the benefit of chest compression to achieve a small amount of artifical circulation.  Later in 1960, mouth-to-mouth and chest compression were combined to form CPR similar to the way it is practiced today.

1900:  The lifeless body of a young girl was pulled from the River Seine in Paris, France.  There was no evidence of violence and it was assumed that she had taken her own life.  Since her identity could not be established, a death mask was made, as was customary in such a case.  Several romantic stories based on this mystery were published.  According to one, her death was the result of an unrequited romance.  This legend became popular throughout Europe, as did reproductions of her death mask.  She was known as the Girl from the River Seine.

1958:  Asmund S. Laerdal of Stavanger, Norway, a doll and toy maker by trade, began work on a life-like manikin for training people on mouth to mouth resuscitation.  Inspired by the mask of the young girl who died so young, he commissioned the well-known sculptress Emma Mathiassen to model a manikin face in her likeness.  Thus, the spirit of the Girl from the River Seine again came to life as Resusci Anne in 1960.

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