December 3 – First Mouth-to-Mouth Rescue Breathing

Posted on December 3, 2014

It apparently took thousands of years for anyone to try this low-tech medical procedure:
If someone isn't breathing, and to all appearances is dying or dead, breathe into the person's mouth – in other words, breathe FOR him or her – in an attempt to revive him or her.
As far as we know, even though mouth-to-mouth resuscitation doesn't demand a modern understanding of biology, and even though it doesn't require electronic devices, electricity, or any technology at all, the procedure was never used until this date in 1732. The innovation was tried by a Scottish doctor named William Tossach. His patient, James Blair, was rescued from a fire in a coal mine. Tossach said that Blair had no pulse, no breath, and no heartbeat. When the doctor blew into Blair's mouth as strongly as he could, twice, Blair's heart began to beat again, and Tossach was able to write up his experiment with rescue breathing as a success!

It's sad that a procedure that actually
saves people, like rescue breathing,
was considered dangerous, while "patent
medicines" and blood letting
were still being practiced!
Sadly, apparently the practice did not catch on as quickly or fully as one might hope. A series of doctors were able to publicize Tossach's procedure, and it was used with increasing frequency as from the 1700s until the early 1800s, mostly to revive drowning victims. 

However, in 1812 a British medical society published a report that “respired air” (the stuff you and I breathe out) is not pure and is a great risk for the patient.

I cannot believe that logic! I would answer to that: Hey, the patient isn't breathing! S/he is dead!! How much worse off can s/he be from getting "impure" air??? What's worse for one's health than death????

It took until the 1950s for two American doctors (Dr. James Elam and Dr. Peter Safar) to rediscover the lifesaving technique. Since then, CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) has added additional elements to rescue breathing. Many people get CPR training, and these days about 92 THOUSAND people are saved EVERY YEAR in the U.S. alone! And even more people could be saved if more of us got and used CPR training!

Saving 92,000 people a year is like saving the
entire city of Santa Barbara - each and every year!
Even kids sometimes need CPR and rescue breathing, and even kids can give CPR and rescue breathing. Here is a primer on rescue breathing, and here are some stories about how ordinary people have used CPR to save lives.

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