June is lifesaving month at GovDocs, and in this post we’re diving into the strange history of a lifesaving mannequin.
If you’ve ever taken CPR training, you’ll remember the training mannequin (and maybe the smell of rubbing alcohol used to sterilize the doll’s lips). The lifesaving mannequin, variously known as Rescue Anne, Resusci Annie or CPR Annie, was first introduced in 1960 under the supervision of Norwegian anesthesiologist, Bjørn Lind.
Lind was a member of the Scandinavian Society of Anaesthesiologists, and they were keen to publicize a new technique for resuscitation, namely using a mouth-to-mouth ventilation technique introduced to the Society by Peter Safar and James Elam. Prior to that, the more commonly used resuscitation did not include mouth-to-mouth ventilation.
The Society realized that the mouth-to-mouth and compression technique required a training aid, and they turned to toy maker, Åsmund Laerdal. Laerdal adapted one of the existing dolls from his company’s stock, the lifelike Anne doll. Resusci Annie received her first lifesaving kiss in 1960.
But wait: there’s more.
The face of the lifelike Anne doll and the subsequent lifesaving Resusci Annie mannequin were modeled from the death mask of a drowning victim from France. The young woman apparently committed suicide by jumping into the Seine in Paris in the 1880s, and her identity never was discovered, which accounts for her legendary appellation as l’Inconnue de la Seine (“the unknown woman of the Seine”).
Replicas of the death mask were popular, and her story spread like wildfire into the early twentieth century, eventually becoming the enduring face of lifesaving. Her death has helped save the lives of millions of other people around the world.
The steps taken to perform CPR are clearly displayed on the official Red Cross Lifesaving CPR Steps poster, which is on sale at 15% off for just $11.04. It’s laminated for durability and includes instructions in both English and Spanish.