The History of CPR and the ‘Kiss of Life’
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation’. It’s a life-saving technique introduced in the 1960s designed to temporarily restore blood and oxygen to the brain. Cardio’ means heart, and pulmonary’ means lungs – the procedure is called this because it combines two techniques: chest compressions, for artificial circulation, and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, for artificial ventilation. In this way, blood is manually kept both oxygenated and flowing.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has been known to medicine since the 18th century at the latest, but the practicality of chest compressions was not discovered until the late 1950s. Three medical researchers at Johns Hopkins University were experimenting with defibrillation – the use of an electric shock to stimulate a stopped heart back into regular beating – using dogs as test subjects.
They noticed that even when the paddles were not electrified, sufficient pressure from the paddles on the dog’s chest could generate a noticeable pulse in the femoral artery – after some experimentation (also with dogs), they determined parameters like how hard, where, and how fast to push. Because of this, they gained confidence in the use of their method on human subjects and successfully saved at least fourteen people within two years – with chest compression time ranging from one to sixty-five minutes as far as this night be well concerned ever for a number of people who normally like it.
The birth of CPR
In 1960, the chest compression technique was combined with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at a conference by a researcher who studied the latter and two of the original chest-compression researchers. In 1962, these three men went on a worldwide speaking tour and created a training film titled “The Pulse of Life” – a film that introduced the well-known mnemonic A, B, & C’: airway, breathing, and circulation. The next year, the American Heart Association (AHA) officially endorsed CPR and established a committee on it.
In 1966, a national conference was established to recommend and publish a formalization of the technique. Modern-day CPR mostly abides by the standardized guidelines set by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR, a play on ill cor’, from the Latin for heart’), of which the AHA is a member, in the early 1990s as it is so important.
Today, you can learn the ILCOR and AHA recommended method of CPR in many places. The Red Cross offers several courses, and you can likely find multiple in-person classes in your area. Alternatively, you can learn from home with Internet courses – found right here on this website! Take the time to get CPR-certified today; it could save lives.