#AtoZchallenge: History of Paramedicine – R is for Resusci-Annie

Those who know me know that one of the biggest interests is in the area of Fire/EMS (though I am not, myself a Firefighter or an EMT/Paramedic).  I decided this year to do my A-Z Challenge using the theme “History of Paramedicine….


AtoZ-RWhat does Resusci-Annie have to do with the History of Paramedicine?  Not much really except that in order to get anywhere on the journey through the EMT ranks you have to start with the basics – Basic First Aid…  Which of course means learning Mouth to Mouth and CPR – Meaning practicing on the  well known CPR Mannequin or Rescue/Resusci Annie.

There are (or at least were) stories out there that the doll was created to look like that of Dotor Safar’s daughter (who died at age eleven in 1966 after slipping into a coma from a severe asthma attack).  The other story is that it was created after that of the daughter of Swedish doctor (Safar?) who fell into an ice laden pond behind his house and drowned.  The story being that CPR was not attempted because (at the time) Paramedics were not trained in such methods.

The real story behind the face of Rescue Annie goes back to the 1880’s when  a young lady was pulled from the River Seine in Paris.  She came to be known by the nick name L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine).  Attempts to determine her identity were unsuccessful.

Generations later she (or her likeness) would be brought back to life when two doctors (Dr. Peter Safar and Dr. James Elam) approached   a Norwegian toy doll maker, by the name of Åsmund S. Lærdal, about making a life-sized doll in which people could practice Mouth to Mouth and CPR techniques.

In the Mid- 1950’s, Drs Safar and Elam developed a method of Rescue Breathing and Chest Compressions.  Dr. Safar believed that such methods could be taught to (what we would now call) the general public and used to save lives.  He envisioned having a life-size mannequin for people to practice on.

It was Laerdal who came up with the idea of using the face of L’Inconnue de la Seine.

Today, Rescue Annie (or similar replicas) are frequently seen used in CPR and First Aid classes across the United States.

I cannot say that the idea stemmed from Rescue Annie or not, but over the years mannequins (or Dummies) have also been created that allow practice for many other First-Aid, BLS, and ALS procedures including IV placement and (I believe) Cricothryrotomy.


Check out the other A-to-Z Challenge Participants

Here’s a few I came across:

I’ve also been doing this blogging challenge on the family blog (Life Happens)


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