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The legend of CPR Annie: The girl from the Seine and her death mask

Updated on August 12, 2015
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Where did "Annie Annie, are you ok?" come from?

Every first responder, CNA, EMT, paramedic, nurse, and doctor knows this face, though few recognize it at first. She should look familiar though, as we have all been up close and personal to her at one point or another in our careers.

This face is now known as the most kissed face of all time, for very good reason.

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A shot EMS professionals WILL recognize.

Here is a look we are more familiar with. Probably every medical professional knows this face. and has kissed it at some point.

"Why of course, its Annie!" of "Annie, Annie, are you ok?" fame which is repeated by every student going through a medical scenario, ever.

Annie gets more action than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar, and the most important thing to remember the next time you go to perform mouth to mouth on Annie, is that you are playing tonsil hockey with a dead girl.

That's because Annie's face was modeled after a corpse. Or rather, a death mask of a corpse.

Asmund Laerdal modeled the original Resusci Anne after the famous L'Inconnue de la Seine. Literally translating to "The unknown woman from the Seine," she was a drowning victim pulled from the harbor, and assumed to have committed suicide.

What is a death mask?

Because everything in the 19th and early 20th century was horrible, a death mask is the face of a dead person, forever preserved. What originally started as a way to remember the dead went horribly awry and became more of an art display.

In 19th century France, it was considered chic to take a casting of a dead person and hang it in your house. Apparently, the dead eyes of an unknown woman staring at you while you slept was a turn-on to those wacky French. And the Italians. And Germans. OK, basically all of Europe and The United States wanted this poor girl staring at them.

photo: Making a death mask, from the Bain Collection, Library of Congress

So, the next time it's time to recertify CPR...

Tell your instructors and fellow students about this page. Tell them about Annie, and the death mask.

Finally, tell them that you are going to "opt out" of the practical, because necrophilia is wrong.

I am sure your instructors will understand.

You can get your own Annie here if you want.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy this one on EMS myths.

Have you ever practiced CPR or done scenarios with Annie?

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    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 3 years ago

      I've been trained in CPR - which seems to change every time I've re-certified. Although historically interesting, this isn't "quite" the humor niche. (Oh and BTW your last link "get your own Annie here" doesn't lead to a CPR model).

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I'll never do CPR on Resusci Anne again without remember this death mask article!