Why did the CPR manikins have a woman’s face?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) manikins are essential for practicing this vital technique

initially they had a feminine face to avoid rejection of word of mouth from some men

CPR was the first thing that was applied to the footballer Eriksen when he fell collapsed during the Eurocup

Last Saturday, June 12, the Danish footballer Christian eriksen fell collapsed during the encounter that faced Denmark and Finland in the Eurocopa. The player underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before applying a defibrillator. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) allows oxygenated blood to circulate to the brain and other vital organs until normal heart rhythm can be restored.

Many experts recommend its teaching in schools because it can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations. The technique requires training and mannequins are used to teach resuscitation maneuvers, which, curiously, are almost always women with identical features. It is no coincidence, and neither is the name they receive: Anne.

During the Belle Époque (1871-1914), one of the main attractions of Paris was taking a walk through the morgue to see the bodies on display.

The drowned girl

The story began at the end of the 1880s, when the Parisian authorities recovered from the Seine the defenseless body of an attractive woman barely 16 years old. The body showed no signs of violence and the fatal outcome was attributed to a romantic suicide.

No one knew who this young woman was. His body was transferred to the Paris morgue. As macabre as it may seem, during the Belle Époque (1871-1914), one of the main attractions of Paris was take a walk through the morgue to see the bodies on display before they started to decompose. Suicides, crime victims, mysterious deaths. On November 14, 1876, for example, the morgue registry recorded 68,250 entries to look at the dismembered body of a murdered woman.

The stranger from the Seine

In the present case, as was customary, the person in charge of the mortuary made a funerary mask for the girl drowned in the Seine and exhibited it to the public. No one recognized the girl or claimed her body. The identity of the woman was a mystery, but the beauty and delicacy of her features conquered artists who, in the following years, made numerous replicas of his face. As no one knew her real name, they called her ‘The Stranger of the Seine’ (L’Inconnue de la Seine, in French).

The original matrix made in the mortuary was photographed and many new molds were built from the negatives. The lines of the face were soft, harmonious and peaceful, the eyes were closed and he showed a slight smile that the writer Albert camus compared to the Mona Lisa. Everyone was in love with “The unknown woman from the Seine” who became muse of writers, painters and musicians. The molds of his face came to be used in the decoration of living rooms and other rooms of the home.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Decades passed, the initial popularity waned and “The Unknown Woman from the Seine” practically fell into oblivion. Until in the 1950s a chance ‘resurrected’ his face.

It was in those years when the anesthesiologist Peter Safarm and the doctor James Otis Elam, developed a maneuver that combined mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with intermittent, rhythmic pressure on the chest. The cardiopulmonary resuscitation maneuver had just started.

Applying the technique was not easy and on many occasions, the assistant used excessive force that damaged the patient and could even fracture the ribs. It was necessary to practice and train the technique before you are trained to use it. Rehearsing with healthy people was not convenient so another solution had to be found and Safar began to think of an alternative.

The Norwegian toy maker

In 1954, the Norwegian toy manufacturer Åsmund Sigurd Laerdal He saved his son Tore from drowning by applying some resuscitation techniques. The experience had a strong impact on Åsmund, which at that time was succeeding in the market by selling toys made of a soft plastic derived from PVC. By 1960, Laerdal had sold more than 100 million units of a toy car called the Tomte in 100 countries. Laerdal’s other star toy was a plastic doll named Anne which was named ‘Toy of the Year’ and which became a bestseller across Europe.

Given its experience in manufacturing soft plastic products, the Norwegian government asked Laerdal to design natural-looking imitation wounds for military training of medics of the civil defense of the Government of Norway. The news reached Peter Safar who contacted Laerdal through Norwegian anesthesiologist Bjorn Lind.

The first CPR manikin

Safar and Lind thought that a dummy of human appearance and size and made of soft plastic would be ideal for training the CPR maneuver. Laerdal, motivated by the event that happened to his son a short time ago, accepted the assignment. Together, Åsmund Laerdal, Dr. Lind and Dr. Peter Safar developed the world’s first patient simulator that they presented in 1960. It was a woman’s torso that they called Resusci Anne in honor of the dolls that the toymaker made and because it would be used to train the “resurrections”.

The training mannequin would have a woman’s face to avoid the squeamishness of men who would not want to make mouth-to-mouth on a male face.

Laerdal thought that the primitive and social puritanicals of the time would cause men to not want to make mouth-to-mouth with a male-faced doll and decided that the training mannequin would have the face of a woman. You had to find an ideal feminine face, sweet and charming, that would make you want to kiss.

The stranger from the Seine becomes Anne

Laerdal remembered a mask that he had seen at his grandmother’s house that was none other than that of ‘The Unknown Woman from the Seine. There could be no better option, Resusci Anne would have the face of the young woman who at the end of the 19th century drowned in the Seine.

The first Resusci Anne was presented in September 1960 at the 1st International Symposium on Resuscitation in Stavanger, Norway. It was made of the plastic that Laerdal used to make its toys, it had natural hair, a metal ring that simulated the ribs allowing chest compressions and two plastic bags that mimicked the lungs and that swelled and emptied of air when performing the mouth to mouth. Once used, the doll was kept in a suitcase.

Resusci Anne was used massively since 1960 in the teaching of the treatment of cardiorespiratory arrest and since then CPR manikins (which later diversified and included male faces) have become an icon that has helped save millions of lives and from time to time to remember the tragic chronicle of ‘The unknown woman from the Seine’ whose lips are perhaps the most kissed in history.

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