The History of CPR

Published: 10th September 2009
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Though Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, may date back hundreds or even thousands of years, the first instance of CPR being medically cited occurred during the 18th century in Paris when the Paris Academy of Science first recommended mouth-to-mouth resuscitations as a means to restoring life to drowning victims. However, it was some 200 years later, in 1956, that James Elam and Peter Safar invented mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as we know it today.

CPR was officially developed in 1960 at Johns Hopkins University, and was brought into wide usage through a training video called "The Pulse of Life." "The Pulse of Life" explained the combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and how this method could be used to save lives. The medical community accepted CPR willingly, and in the 1970s, CPR methods were widely disseminated to the public as well. Books, such as "ABC of Resuscitation" by Safar and mass training events allowed the public to become aware of the extreme importance of CPR. Before the decade was even one quarter finished, over 100,000 people had become trained in CPR methods.

The addition of automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs, as part of CPR emerged in the late 1980s. This was only five decades after Claude Beck began experimenting with defibrillation to restart stopped hearts at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The small shocks delivered via internal defibrillation paddles have now been replaced with portable devices that practically run themselves and are simple enough for layman to use.

We have come a very long way since the earliest training videos that were intended for use by health care professionals only. Today, CPR training is widely available to any person who is interested in obtaining these life saving skills. Companies like the American Health Care Academy at offer online CPR and AED certification courses that allow anyone to learn CPR without even leaving their home.

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