Although Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) may not necessarily revive (or resurrect) a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest, it is the only known method curently of keeping someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest alive long enough for other medical interventions to have some affect. It should still be acknowledge that even with good, effective CPR, the likelihood of longterm survival is minimal – but without any CPR, it is absolutely zero. So, where did CPR come from and how did we start performing CPR?
Early attempts at resuscitation following cardiac arrest were documented as early as the late 1760. In Amersterdam, a society of intelligent persons gathered to form the “Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons” in an attempt to resolve the many deaths that occured as a result of drowings in the many canals. The Society develloped a list of recommendations, which were believed to be attributed to the saving of many a drowned persons life. These recommendations included:
Warming the Victim
Removing the water from their body by lowering their head below their feet
Sustaining manual pressure to the abdomen
Respirations of the victim (through techniques not too dissimilar to present day “mouth to mouth”
And finally tickling of the throat to coax them back into existence
Although many of these techniques seem ridiculous to the modern day physician (or paramedic), the ideas developed by these people caused a paradigm shift in their views of the dead (or at least the recently dead), in which they started to consider the possibility that some form of intervention could bring the dead, or at least the recently dead, back to life.
These techniques, and many variances of these techniques continued until the late 1950s and the early 1960s. In the early 1880-90s physicians recognised the need to maintain circulation of the blood, but were helpless to devise a method in which they could do so.
In the early 1960 two Doctors identified while working on a trial involving Dogs that a certain amount of pressure could be applied to make the blood circulate and create a femoral pulse. Multiple variances on the attempts allowed them develop ideal locations for chest compressions. From this they determined the possibility of combing chest compressions with mouth to mouth to achieve resuscitation!
Since then, the International Liason Committee on Resuscitation was formed in 1992 and since then have changed the ratios of chest compressions and respirations to achieve the greatest likelihood of success. However, fundamentally, CPR, has not changed since its inception in the early 1960s.