Resusci Annie is the most recognised and kissed manikin in the world. The driving force behind the development of Resusci Annie is Asmund Laerdal.  It was as if the stars aligned.

In 1949, the American manufacturing industry, experienced the emergence of the era of soft plastics. Laerdal intuitively knew that this new phenomenon would change the face of manufacturing. He obtained a selection of soft plastic samples and started experimenting by baking moulds in his wife’s oven. Now that is a tolerant women!

A year later, Laerdal had introduced to a post-war toy-starved Europe, a new baby doll. The prototype for the later development of Resusci Annie.

But Annie is also a reminder of a unsolved death from the mid 19th century.

Her flawless face and enigmatic smile, was modelled from a death mask of a young woman who had reportedly drowned in the River Seine in Paris.

By 1926, Annie would be known as the L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine) and replicas of her plaster face would adorn the walls of the living rooms of Paris’ bourgeoisie.

Four significant people, Dr. Per Stromback, chief Physician of the Swedish Red Cross, Dr Archer Gordon, the pioneer resuscitation, and two US Chiefs of Anaesthesiology, Dr Peter Safar and Dr. James Elam, met with Laerdal.  This would be the start of a life-long friendship of a shared mission.

Studies conducted by Safar and Elam confirmed that life-saving resuscitation could be performed with expired air by mouth-to-mouth ventilations. Later, Dr James Jude, Dr Guy Knickerbocker and Dr William Kouwenhoven identified that external compression of the chest, provided circulation of the blood to the brain, supporting a greater chance of revival of life. The challenge lay in training people in a practical manner.

This is where Laerdal’s early exploration in soft plastics paid off and the Resusci Annie that is used for practical artificial ventilation and external chest compressions, throughout the world today was developed.

The CFAA trainers acknowledge the foresight of Asmund Laerdal, the work of Swedish Red Cross physicians and the US researchers who worked together to find a solution.

We thank the unknown woman of the Seine, who lost her own life, but lives on in the face our Annie manikins, saving lives around the world.

‘Each day, thousands of people die of heart failure, people whose hearts were sufficiently good to recover after clinical death, had they been given correct and quick treatment’.

Asmund Laerdal (1969 -)