Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) has been a literal lifesaver for centuries. With new guideline updates released every few years that strive to perfect the techniques in CPR, this form of emergency treatment may seem modern. The part that may surprise you is that it has been in use to some extent since 1740, when the French Academy of Sciences recommended mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims.

Dr. James Elm first demonstrated the technique, and worked with Dr. Peter Safar in proving the effectiveness of CPR and its many advantages compared to other emergency procedures. Dr. Peter Safar was the author of a book titled “ABC of Resuscitation,” which became a sort of “Bible of CPR.”

“The first attempts to deal with sudden cardiac arrests or heart attacks started in the mid-1700s in Amsterdam, where a group of wealthy and civil minded citizens have organized a group named Society for Recovery of Drowned Persons.” The organization formed a set of rules to follow in the event that a person may drown. It became such a success that similar organizations were founded across Europe and then later migrated to America. The CPR movement has gained massive popularity since, saving approximately 92,000 lives each year.

Timeline of the development of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation


1740 – Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was officially recommended for drowning victims by The French Academy of Sciences, (French: Académie des Sciences) in Paris.

1767 – The Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons became the first organized effort to deal with sudden and unexpected death.


1891 – Dr. Friedrich Maass performed the first equivocally documented chest compression in humans.


1903 – Dr. George Crile reported the first successful use of external chest compressions in human resuscitation.

1904 – The first American case of closed-chest cardiac massage was performed by Dr. George Crile

1954 – James Elam was the first to prove that expired air was sufficient to maintain adequate oxygenation

When was CPR invented?

1956 – Peter Safar and James Elam invented mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

1957 – The United States military adopted the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation method  to revive unresponsive victims.

1960 – Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was developed. The American Heart Association started a program to acquaint physicians with close-chest cardiac resuscitation and became the forerunner of CPR training for the general public.

1963 – Cardiologist Leonard Scherlis started the American Heart Association’s CPR Committee, and the same year, the American Heart Association formally endorsed CPR.

1966 – The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences convened an ad hoc conference on cardiopulmonary resuscitation.  The conference was the direct result of requests from the American National Red Cross and other agencies to establish standardized training and performance standards for CPR.

1972 – Leonard Cobb held the world’s first mass citizen training in CPR in Seattle, Washington called Medic 2.  He helped train over 100,000 people the first two years of the programs.


2003 – ProCPR launches online CPR course for the first time.

2008 – Hands-Only CPR (or Compression Only CPR) is introduced as a way to get bystanders to provide compressions if they have witnessed an arrest. The goal here is to get people involved.

2014 – ProTrainings launches SUMO – a Single Use Manikin Option – for remote skill evaluations.


some facts via AHA


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