Archer Gordon; Renowned as Father of CPR Technique


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 Resuscis: 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--not just medical and rescue personnel--were taught how to save the lives of heart attack, drowning, choking, electric shock and drug overdose 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--cardiopulmonary resuscitation was credited with saving 25% to 30% of victims if used in the first few minutes.

Although known worldwide as the father of CPR, Gordon said that the resuscitation theories were worked out by a Johns Hopkins research team and he became identified with it through his work with mouth-to-mouth techniques and his mannequins--saving lives by "playing with dolls," as wrote People magazine wrote in 1978.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World