One of the major developments in first aid training was the introduction of a lifelike manikin, enabling students to realistically learn mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR.
The Girl from the River Seine
Around the turn of the century, the body of a young girl was pulled from the River Seine in Paris, France. No one knew how she died, so it was assumed she had taken her own life. Since her identity could not be established, it was customary to have a death mask made.
Her delicate beauty and ethereal smile added to the enigma of her death, with rumours abound that her death was the consequence of an unrequited romance. Several stories based on this mystery were published and became popular throughout Europe, as did reproductions of her death mask.
The Toy Maker
During the 1950s, Asmund S. Laerdal became interested in the development of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as a first aid technique. As a toy and doll manufacturer, Laerdal explored ways to reproduce a realistic manikin enabling everyday people to learn how to perform this revolutionary technique.
Laerdal had already given new realism to dolls by making them of soft vinyl with stitched natural hair. His knowledge of this material, added to his interest in the new mouth-to-mouth technique, led to his development of a training manikin.
Wanting to create a realistic and effective training manikin to teach mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Laerdal rediscovered the Girl from the River Seine. Inspired by the death mask and a tragic tale of a life lost so young, he commissioned the well-known sculptress Emma Mathiassen to model a face for the new resuscitation training manikin, Resusci Anne.
Laerdal believed that if a manikin for training resuscitation was life-sized and extremely lifelike in appearance, students would be better motivated to learn this lifesaving procedure.
Resusci Anne was introduced during 1960. Since her humble beginning, Resusci Anne has now become the premier first aid training aid for CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The new manikin comes equipped with disposable airways, lungs and face covers making the training experience as accurate as possible. Used by schools, workplaces and St John Ambulance training centres, Resusci Anne has helped teach modern resuscitation techniques to millions of people across the world.