If you've ever taken a CPR course (and everyone should), then you have probably been face-to-face with Resusci Anne, the CPR practice dummy.

Well, the face of that practice dummy has quite a history - one that might send some chills up your spine.

First of all, if you HAVE used a CPR dummy, thank you for learning about CPR. Though it doesn't work every time it is used, CPR can double or triple the odds of survival during a cardiac incident, according to the CDC.

CPR, for those not in the know, is the acronym for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. In the event someone's heart stops beating, performing CPR properly can "massage" the heart enough to make it continue to pump blood, delivering vital oxygen to the brain.

Photo by Michel E on Unsplash
Photo by Michel E on Unsplash

The story of how the face of Rescusci Anne came to be is interesting. According to a Facebook post by First Aid Mid North Coast, the face on the CPR doll is that of an unidentified woman who drowned in Paris back in the late 1800s.

Back in those days, when a body was found that wasn't immediately recognized, funeral homes would display the corpse for passersby to see, hoping that someone would recognize the victim and claim the body for proper burial.

When a young woman drowned in the Seine in Paris, a local mortuary put the body on display and it caught the attention of a pathologist. He was "entranced" by the look on her face, and he decided to make a plaster cast of her face.

That cast, according to the post, was replicated many times and became somewhat of a work of art titled "The Unknown Woman of the Seine".

Fast forward to the 1950s:  Asmund Laerdal, a toymaker from Norway, was asked to create a doll to be used for mouth-to-mouth practice for health care workers. He designed the doll and, for the face, he remembered a piece of art he saw hanging in his grandparent's home from years earlier.

That is how Resusci Anne got "her" face, from "The Unknown Woman of the Seine".


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