My CPR-ish Blog

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Her Face Well-known, Her Identity Unknown

Years ago when I was asked about the CPR mannequins all I knew was it was the face of woman, a drowning victim. Here is a short interesting summary of how she became the face of CPR. 

This is the DEATH MASK of a young woman who drowned in the River Seine in the 1880's. As was customary in those days, her corpse was put on display in the Paris mortuary, in the hope that someone might recognize her and claim her body. The pathologist on duty became entranced by the girl with the enigmatic half-smile, and so he commissioned a plaster cast made of her face. This mask was replicated many times over. She became known as "L'Inconnue de la Seine,” or “The Unknown Woman of the Seine.” 

The popularity of the figure is also of interest to the history of artistic media, relating to its widespread reproduction. The original cast had been photographed, and new casts were created from the film negatives. These new casts displayed details that are usually lost in bodies taken from the water, but the apparent preservation of these details in the visageof the cast seemed to only reinforce its authenticity.

The face of CPR was created by Peter Safarand Asmund Laerdalin 1958 and was used starting in 1960 in numerous CPRcourses. For this reason, the face has been called "the most kissed face" of all time. Asmund wanted his mannequin to have a natural appearance. Remembering a mask on the wall of his grandparents' house many years earlier, he decided that the L'Inconnue de la Seine would become the face of Resusci Anne. 

Now more popularly known as “Rescue Annie” “Little resusi Annie” by leading CPR mannequin retailers. “CPR Annie” , is the most well known model used for teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR) to both emergency workers and members of the general public. 

Thank you to the 19th century drowning victim for becoming the face we see when learning to saves lives.