The History of CPR

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and is used in emergencies to help a patient when they have stopped breathing. The main goal of CPR is not to restart the heart, but to return blood flow and oxygen to the body, brain and tissues. 

People have been saving lives through the use of CPR for centuries. Here is a look at the history of CPR through the years. Click To Tweet

Timeline of CPR Through History

It is interesting to learn that CPR has been used dating back all the way to the 1700s. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), here are some of the highlights and facts surrounding CPR throughout the years:


  • 1740–The Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommend mouth to mouth resuscitation for drowning victims.
  • 1767–The Society for the Recovery of Drowned Persons becomes the first organized effort to deal with a sudden and unexpected death.
  • 1891–Dr. Friedrich Maass performs the first documented chest compressions on humans.


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


  • 1954–James Elam proved that expired air is sufficient to maintain adequate oxygenation.
  • 1956–Peter Safar and James Elam invent mouth to mouth resuscitation.
  • 1957–The U.S. Military adopts mouth to mouth resuscitation method to revive unresponsive soldiers.


  • 1960–CPR is developed and the American Heart Association begins a program to acquaint physicians with close-chest resuscitation.
  • 1963–The American Heart Association formally endorses  CPR and cardiologist Leonard Scherlis began the AHA’s CPR committee.
  • 1966–The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences held a conference resulting in the standardization of CPR training and performance standards.


  • 1972–Leonard Cobb holds the first mass citizen CPR training in Seattle, Washington, training over 100,000 people in the first two years of the program.
  • 1979–Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) is developed during the third national CPR conference.


  • 1981–Dispatcher-assisted CPR becomes standard care for dispatcher centers throughout the United States.
  • 1983–AHA works to develop CPR and ECC guidelines for pediatric and neonatal patients.
  • 1988–AHA introduces the first pediatric courses (pediatric BLS & ALS neonatal resuscitation), co-sponsored with the American Academy of Pediatrics.


  • Early Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs are developed with the goal to provide training and resources to the public so they are able to aid in the successful resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims.
  • 1992–The International Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) is founded.
  • 1999–The first task force for first aid is appointed.


  • 2005–AHA develops the Family & Friends CPR Anytime kit, allowing anyone to learn the core skills of CPR in only 20 minutes. The kit contains everything needed to learn basic CPR, AED skills and choking relief anywhere, from the comfort of your home to a large group setting.
  • 2005–New guidelines for compression, ventilation ratio, as well as AED usage were produced during the CoSTR conference.
  • 2008–The AHA releases information about Hands-Only™ CPR, stating 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.


  • The 2015 International Consensus on ECC and CPR Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR) Conference produces new 2015 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC).

History of CPR and Saving Lives

One thing is for sure, CPR helps saves lives every day. But, statistics show that 70%of people feel helpless to act if someone near them were to suffer a cardiac arrest.

ProTip: Performing CPR on an unconscious person immediately helps preserve the individual’s brain functioning, keeping their blood flowing and vital organs alive.

Make sure you are ready and educated in case an emergency happens around you by getting CPR certified today.

Contact us to learn more about the history of CPR, or to learn about getting CPR certified.