The Story of Resuci Annie and L’Inconnue de la Seine

I recently listened to a fascinating podcast in the Criminal series titled ‘The Unknown Woman’ about the creation of Resusci Annie. 

Resusci Anne is a popular training mannequin used for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction and basic life support (BLS) training. It was created by the Norwegian company Laerdal Medical in collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA).

The mannequin’s name, “Resusci Anne,” is derived from “resuscitation” and “Anne,” a common name used to represent a generic female figure. Resusci Anne has become a well-known and widely used training tool in healthcare and first aid settings.

Key features of the Resusci Anne mannequin include:

  1. Realistic Anatomy: Resusci Anne is designed to have realistic physical features, such as a head, neck, torso, and limbs, to closely resemble an adult human. This realism allows trainees to practice CPR techniques and other life-saving skills in a more lifelike manner.

  2. Airway Management: The mannequin is equipped with an airway that can be opened and closed to simulate various airway obstruction scenarios. This feature helps trainees practice clearing airway obstructions, performing rescue breaths, and managing the airway during resuscitation efforts.

  3. Feedback Mechanisms: Some versions of Resusci Anne include advanced features that provide real-time feedback on CPR performance. This feedback can include metrics like compression depth, rate, and recoil, helping trainees improve their technique and ensure effective chest compressions.

  4. Modular Design: Resusci Anne mannequins are often modular, meaning different components can be interchanged or replaced as needed. This allows for customisation based on specific training requirements or upgrades to the mannequin’s features.

But where did Resusci Annie get her face from?

L’Inconnue de la Seine, also known as “The Unknown Woman of the Seine,” is a mysterious and iconic figure in popular culture. The story revolves around an unidentified young woman whose lifeless body was found in the River Seine in Paris, France, in the late 19th century, possibly in the early 1900s.

The woman’s body was discovered near the Quai du Louvre, and according to accounts, she appeared to be in her early twenties and displayed a serene expression on her face. The circumstances of her death remain unknown, as does her true identity. Speculation suggests that she might have died by suicide or drowning, but no conclusive evidence has ever been found.

What made L’Inconnue de la Seine particularly captivating was her appearance. The pathologist who examined her body was struck by her beauty, which inspired an artist to create a death mask of her face. This death mask gained popularity and became an object of fascination. The tranquil and enigmatic expression on her face gave rise to various interpretations and artistic representations.

Over time, L’Inconnue de la Seine’s death mask became a symbol of beauty, mystery, and the allure of death. It inspired writers, poets, and artists who incorporated her likeness into their works. Additionally, the story of L’Inconnue de la Seine played a role in the development of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). The artistic representation of her serene expression became the face for the Resusci Anne mannequin, which we mentioned earlier in the context of CPR training.

Today, L’Inconnue de la Seine remains an intriguing figure in cultural history, representing both beauty and mystery. Her story has had a lasting impact on art, literature, and medical training, serving as a symbol that transcends her unknown identity and connects to the human fascination with the unknown and the ephemeral nature of life.