Obituaries : * Archer Gordon; Known as the 'Father' of CPR


Archer Gordon, the heart specialist considered the "father" of CPR whose family of life-sized mannequins helped thousands of people save tens of thousands of lives, has died.

A family spokesman said Monday that Dr. Gordon, a onetime researcher at UCLA who came up with the idea of his "Resusci Family" while studying artificial respiration techniques under a Red Cross grant, was 73 when he died Sept. 18. He died of the complications of diabetes at a Thousand Oaks hospital.

He and his wife, Pansy, raised three children during their 43 years in the Conejo Valley.

Gordon was studying physiology at the University of Illinois as a young doctor in the late 1950s at a time when it was first being learned that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was far more effective than the then-prominent resuscitation method of back pressure.

By 1960, he and others were expounding the merits of mouth-to-mouth combined with external compression.

To further his belief that "it is better to teach a lot of people a little CPR than to teach a lot to a few," he came up with the idea of the Resusci Family: Anne, Andy and Baby, each physically correct for their sex and size.

Using the mannequins for mouth to mouth while also applying steady, rhythmic pressure on their breastbones, office workers, teachers and parents, and not just medical and rescue personnel, were taught how to save the lives of heart attack, drowning, choking, electric shock and drug abuse victims.

He and Asmund Laerdal, a Norwegian doll maker, devised the lifelike dolls and Gordon produced dozens of training films and hundreds of articles on their use.

Even in its early years--the 1960s and '70s--CPR was credited with saving 25% to 30% of victims if used in the first few minutes.

Although known worldwide as CPR's father, Gordon said that the original resuscitation theories were worked out by a Johns Hopkins research team and that he became identified with it through mouth-to-mouth techniques of revival plus his mannequins.

Or saving lives by "playing with dolls," as wrote People magazine in a 1978 article about him.

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