History of First Aid and CPR

The following is a brief history of first aid and CPR.

1023    The Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St. John is founded in Jerusalem to provide care for poor, sick, or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land.

1740    The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommends mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for drowning victims.

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

1859 - 1901   Jean Henri Dunant organizes local villagers to care for wounded soldiers in the Battle of Solferino. Afterwards,  Dunant records his memories and experiences in the book, A Memory of Solferino, which inspires the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. The 1864 Geneva Convention is based on Dunant’s ideas. In 1901, Dunant receives the first Nobel Peace Prize.

1862    A new first aid protocol for the battlefield, called triage, is developed by Dr. Jonathan Letterman, assistant surgeon of the Union Army medical department. Dr. Letterman is known today as the Father of Modern Battlefield Medicine.

1877    St. John Ambulance is established in the United Kingdom, based on the principles of the Knights Hospitaller.

1878    Surgeon-Major Peter Shepherd, together with Colonel Francis Duncan, establishes the concept of teaching first aid skills to civilians. Shepherd conducts the first class in the hall of the Presbyterian school in Woolwich using a comprehensive first aid curriculum that he had developed. Shepherd coins the phrase “first aid for the injured.”

1886 - 1898   Three brothers, Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson, found Johnson & Johnson Company in New Jersey. By 1888, the company publishes Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Care and pioneers the first commercial first aid kits. In the years that follow, Johnson & Johnson brings many innovative health products to market, including maternity kits, baby powder, feminine sanitary napkins, and dental floss.

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

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

Organized first aid training by civilians begins in the United States when Clara Barton, president of the American Red Cross, forms a committee to establish instruction for first aid among the nation’s industrial workers.

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

1920 - 1958   Earle Dickson, a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson, invents the adhesive compress (BAND-AID®) in 1920 to cover a small wound on his wife’s fingers that would not come off despite her activities around the house. The same year, Dickson’s employer, James Johnson, decides to manufacture BAND-AIDs for public use. Sales are slow until Johnson & Johnson decides to give free Band-Aids to Boy Scout troops as a publicity stunt. By 1924, Band-Aids are machine made with the little red string to open the cover, sold sterilized by 1938, and made with vinyl tape by 1958.

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

1956   Peter Safar and James Elam invent mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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

1960   Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is developed. The American Heart Association (AHA) starts a program to acquaint physicians with close-chest cardiac resuscitation and becomes the forerunner of CPR training for the general public.

1963   Cardiologist Leonard Scherlis starts the American Heart Association’s CPR Committee. The same year, the American Heart Association formally endorses CPR.

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

1968    A national telephone service for emergency calls (9-1-1) is established in the United States.

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

1973    Second National Conference on CPR and emergency cardiac care is held.

1979    Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) is developed after discussions held at the Third National Conference on CPR.

1981    A program to provide telephone instructions in CPR begins in King County, Washington.  The program uses emergency dispatchers to give instant directions while the fire department and EMS personnel are en route to the scene.  Dispatcher-assisted CPR is now standard care for dispatcher centers throughout the United States.

1983    The American Heart Association convenes a national conference on pediatric resuscitation to develop CPR and emergency cardiac care guidelines for pediatric and neonatal patients.

1985    Fourth National Conference on CPR and Emergency Cardiac Care is held.

1988    The American Heart Association introduces first pediatric courses, pediatric BLS, pediatric ALS and neonatal resuscitation, co-sponsored with The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

1990s    Early Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs are developed with the goal in mind to provide training and resources to the public so they are able to aid in the successful resuscitation of sudden cardiac arrest victims.

1992    Fifth National Conference on CPR and Emergency Cardiac Care is held. The International Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) is founded.

1997 - 2006   Tony Jorm, a mental health literacy researcher, and his wife Betty Kitchener, a first aid instructor with the Australian Red Cross, come up with the idea for a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course while walking their dog. In 2000, the first MHFA class is taught in Canbarra, Australia. By 2006, work on international MHFA guidelines begins.

2004    The American Heart Association and ILCOR release a statement regarding the use of AEDs on children. It is determined that an AED may be used for children 1 to 8 years of age who have no signs of circulation.

2005    The American Heart Association develops the Family & Friends® Anytime CPR®  kit, a revolutionary product that allows anyone to learn the core skills of in CPR in just 20 minutes. The kit contains everything needed to learn basic CPR, AED skills, and choking relief anywhere, from the comfort of a home to a large group setting.

The 2005 International Consensus on Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) and CPR Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR) Conference produces the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR & ECC. These Guidelines reveal a new compression/ventilation ratio as well as changes to AED usage.

2008    The American Heart Association releases a statement about Hands-Only CPR, saying that bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult should dial 911 and provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest.

2010    The 2010 International Consensus on ECC and CPR Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR) Conference produces the 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for ECC and CPR. Also, the 50th Anniversary of CPR is celebrated.