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face that may seem familiar to millions worldwide, as this face is quite popular, but only for those who know how to perform basic CPR. What you see in the face of the CPR doll has not changed since the 19th century or better said since its creation.

What most people are not aware of is that the face of the CPR dummy has been recreated based on the face of a real person. This girl was found in the Seine river in Paris during the late 1800s. The Seine river is notoriously known for suicides in Paris, this is the case even today.

However, in most cases, the authorities were able to identify the person’s identity, but not in this case. They reported that the girl had committed suicide as there were no signs of violence on her body. Accounts from that period of the time state that everyone was amazed by the beauty of this girl who received the nickname of L’Inconnue de la Seine (the unknown woman of the Seine).

Many different artists were attracted to her beauty, but one was so intrigued that he actually made masks out of her face and sold them around Paris. The mesmerizing mask of this unknown dead girl — described by philosopher and author Albert Camus as the “drowned Mona Lisa” — became a coveted cultural icon.

The real popularity of the mask was taken to a new level by Asmund Laerdal, a toy manufacturer from Norway. His company was founded after World War II producing small toys as well as calendars for kids. Laerdal started to experiment with plastic by trying to make new toys that seemed more realistic and natural compared to wood. He gave birth to one of the most common dolls of that century, the “Anne” doll who carried the exact same face as the girl who drowned in the Seine.

One day, Laerdal’s two-year-old son, Tore, nearly drowned. Lucky his father had basic medical training from the war and managed to clear his airways of water. Soon after, a group of anaesthesiologists approached Laerdal, requesting a new doll that could be used to demonstrate a new resuscitation technique known today as CPR.

The CPR technique was developed in 1956 by a member of the American Heart Association and students were learning by practicing on one another. As in most cases, CPR leads to broken ribs, and the practice on others caused injuries, so requested a doll, but with a more realistic aspect.

The evolution from the mask, to the Anne doll and the CPR dummy (Source: Mirror/Laerdal)

Laerdal thought about the incident with his son and the Anne doll to come up with an idea to adopt the doll to use as a mannequin for people to practice this new technique. He also decided to give it the same beautiful face. This is how the famous CPR doll was born.

Even to this day, the identity of the girl remains a mystery, but her face has become very popular around the world and artists like to think that due to these adaptations from toys to CPR dummies, her persona lived on, despite her identity remaining unknown.

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