CPR History: Some Facts to Know

AHA CPR in Folsom

By J. A. Young

Officially recommended as a life-saving method in 1740 by the Paris Academy of Sciences, CPR has grown to become an essential worldwide technique for delivering emergency care for those who go into cardiac arrest.  Because we never know when someone might go into cardiac arrest, the more people who learn the technique, the more people are prepared to help a fellow human in need whether that person is a family member or a stranger on the street.  CPR has been around in some form for centuries and the following facts denote some milestones from its interesting past.

Paris Academy of Sciences

This panel, of course, was a distinguished intellectual society that was founded in the mid-sixteenth century by French King Louis XIV.  The group recommended a form of CPR to be used to help resuscitate drowning victims.  At the time, the society was one of the foremost leaders in the area of sciences and CPR is one example of their important contributions to the developing field of medicine.

Organized Help for the Near Drowned

The Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned was founded in England in 1774.  This was one of the earliest organizations to focus on artificial resuscitation.  Its efforts led to increased awareness of techniques that could be used in cases of near drownings to revive victims.  Today this organization has become an organized charity that awards people who have attempted and succeeded at saving lives.

George Crile

Dr. Crile was an important American surgeon who made some CPR milestones though he is more famously known for other medical milestones like direct blood transfusion and his design of the small haemostatic forceps.  In reference to CPR, however, Crile became the first American to successfully employ external compressions to revive a human in 1903.  In 1904, Crile became the first American to perform closed-chest cardiac massage.  The physician published Surgical Anemia and Resuscitation in 1914 and is today largely regarded as a pioneer of modern CPR.

1950s Milestones

CPR advanced immensely in 1954 when James Elam provided proof that expired air carried enough oxygen to maintain another’s oxygenation levels.  This milestone was followed up by Elam and Peter Safar in 1956 when the two invented the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation technique which is a cornerstone of CPR training today.  Before the decade was over, the U.S. military adopted the technique which helped cement its importance and launch it into the mainstream.

The American Heart Association

In 1960, the American Heart Association developed CPR and has since been instrumental in creating training platforms for the methods employed.  It wasn’t until 1963, however, that the association formally recommended CPR as a standard procedure to be used as a life-saving technique. The American Heart Association has designed CPR and First-aid classes to train the public. These life-saving courses are provided to the public. View upcoming CPR and First-aid classes in Rancho Cordova.

By 1972 the first mass-training sessions of ordinary citizens took place in Seattle.  Leonard Cobb helped train as many as 200,000 people by 1974.  Today, of course, people train in CPR all over the world.  Yet its development as a viable medical intervention has a long history.  Understanding the journey it took helps people recognize what an amazing procedure it is today and how much effort it took to bring it into modern use.

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