Monday, March 04, 2024

EMS History - The Evolution of CPR

CPR is a lifesaving skill that has been performed on presidents, celebrities and regular people alike. Knowing about CPR, and its associated history, equips individuals with life-saving skills. In emergency situations, performing high-quality CPR could mean the difference between life and death for a loved one, a colleague, or even a stranger.

EMS providers should have a solid understanding of the evolution of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as it provides the foundation for their life-saving interventions.

For instance, the term "cardiopulmonary resuscitation" was first coined in 1960, signifying the integration of chest compressions and artificial ventilation to revive individuals in cardiac arrest.

However, documented efforts to revive a person who has suffered a heart attack date back 600 years. That said, it wasn't until the early 20th century that more systematic approaches were developed.

The methods we use today may be considered far more efficient than those originally attempted as far back as the 1500s, such as whipping the patient, rolling them back and forth over a barrel, placing them on a galloping horse, or inflating them with a bellows.

Knowing about the development of CPR is valuable for several reasons:

Historical Context: Learning the history of CPR provides valuable context. It illustrates the progression of medical knowledge and techniques over time, highlighting the importance of scientific advancements in improving healthcare outcomes.

Life-Saving Skills: Understanding CPR and its history equips individuals with life-saving skills. In emergency situations, knowing CPR could mean the difference between life and death for a loved one, a colleague, or even a stranger.

Empowerment: Learning about CPR empowers individuals to take action in emergencies. It gives them the confidence and knowledge to intervene effectively until professional medical help arrives.

Community Resilience: A well-informed community with CPR knowledge contributes to overall community resilience. When more people are trained in CPR, the likelihood of survival from cardiac arrest increases, creating a safer environment for everyone.

As Dr. Peter Safar stated "CPR is the most effective first-aid treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. It buys time until further medical help arrives, increasing the chances of survival” while Dr. Mickey Eisenberg expressed the sentiment that "CPR is the ultimate act of kindness and compassion. It shows that we're willing to step in and help someone in their darkest moment.”

Further Reading:

American Heart Association (ND) History of CPR - Highlights from the 16th Century to the 21st Century. Retrieved from

American Heart Association (2022, June 28) ‘Father’ of CPR: Guy Knickerbocker Obituary. Retrieved from

American Heart Association (2024, February 15) The Presidential Heart Attack That Changed America. Retrieved from

Hazzard, K. (2022) American Sirens. New York: Hachette Books

No comments: