According to Wikipedia, CRP (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is “an emergency procedure that combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function”. It is usually performed to restore blood circulation and breathing to a person who is in cardiac arrest. It is a procedure all people should know how to perform, but few are aware of where it came from. Remember the CPR dummy’s face in your tutorials? The dummy’s face is not there randomly. Her expressive plastic face was taken from a real woman who captivated Paris in the 19th century.
Texas-born doctor James Elam’s specialty was breathing. He worked with polio patients in the 1940s, whose paralysis had spread to their lungs. Many of his patients were hooked up to “iron lungs” that breathed for them. However, sometimes, machines weren’t available and Elam had to give his patients mouth-to-mouth for hours at a time. He came to the realization that his lungs worked perfectly, but he had to breathe twice as hard.
In 1957, he worked with a group of other doctors to systematize mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They created the techniques that would be combined with chest compressions to become CPR. Together with a Norwegian toymaker named Asmund Laerdal, they worked up a human head and torso containing all of the necessary valves to simulate the process.
They called her Resusci Anne, and the dummy popularized the CPR technique. It became an easy technique to learn for all the people around the world. Nowadays, more than 400 million people have used it, but few know where this plastic face comes from. Interestingly, it was taken from a real woman who lived in Paris.
Here is her story. A young lady was dredged from the River Seine and her corpse was unidentified. It was then placed in the Paris mortuary to await burial. The pathologist who was on duty back then became fascinated with her curious expression. As a matter of fact, her mouth had taken on a faint, enigmatic smile. That’s how he recruited a sculptor to make a death mask of her before she was buried.
Later on, casts of her face were displayed in studios and drawing rooms around France and all over the world. She became known as L’Inconnue de la Seine — the “unknown woman of the Seine.”
Philosopher Maurice Blanchot eulogized the anonymous girl, writing that she was “a young girl with closed eyes, enlivened by a smile so relaxed and at ease … that one could have believed that she drowned in an instant of extreme happiness.” It’s amazing how even though she drowned, her face is smiling. She looks peaceful.
Vladimir Nabokov wrote a poem about her in 1934, whereas Albert Camus called her a modern-day Mona Lisa.
A copy of her death mask hung in Laerdal’s studio, and half a century later, he used it as the model for Resusci Anne.
Some call Resusci Anne the “most kissed face of all time.” Isn’t it ironic that this mysterious lady who died from loss of breath became a lifesaver in some way?
Here‘s a story of a boy who saved his brother’s life by performing a CPR.