New Official Method of Artificial Respiration Unveiled [History Lesson]

Tuesday, 20 April 2010
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If you were a regular subscriber to Popular Science in 1952 you would probably be all excited to read about the brand new method of artificial respiration that has just been approved by the US Armed Forces, Red Cross, Bureau of Mines and the Boy Scouts. This new method is so revolutionarily that they have decided to train 20,000,000 Americans later this summer.

As you can see by the photos below it’s a touch different then what we do today.

To help you stay current, here are the proper steps as developed by Dr. Holger Nielson:

New AR Technique - Popular Science 1952

Push: “Drowning Victim” is placed prone, elbows bent, arms under head, one hand upon the other, cheek in her hands. Operator kneels on one knee at her head, puts opposite foot near one elbow (1). He places his hands on her back with thumbs just touching and his hands just below a line running between her armpits. He rocks forward (2), elbows straight, until his arms are almost vertical, exerting pressure upon her back.

New AR Technique - Popular Science 1952

Pull: Operator then begins rocking backwards slowly (3), sliding his hands to her arms just above the elbows. He raises her arms until resistance     and tension are felt at her shoulders (4). Then he puts her arms back down. This completes the full cycle of Nielsen’s artificial-respiration method. The cycles are repeated 10 to 12 times a minute, the pushes and pulls being of equal length and the release periods of minimum duration.

The Popular Science article is completely fascinating. It outlines the advantages of this method over the latest technique at the time which involves the “Drowning Victim” lying on his back and pushing on his stomach to expel the air

To prove that this new version of AR was more effective the article talks about how Dr. Nielson tested it on patients. You can read all the details yourself but it involves 150 patients who were moments from death as well as healthy people who were given drugs to paralyze their breathing muscles and kept alive by Dr. Nielson.

More info: Popular Science, April 1952 [Google Books]


David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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