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Peter Safar, MD
Born 12 April 1924
Died 2 August 2003
Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Nationality Austrian
Fields Medicine
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Peter Safar (12 April 1924 – 2 August 2003) was an Austrian physician of Czech descent. He is credited with pioneering cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Early life

Safar was born in in Vienna, and graduated from the University of Vienna in 1948. He married Eva Kyzivat and moved from Vienna to Hartford, Connecticut in 1949 for surgical training at Yale University. He completed training in anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1952. That same year, he worked in Lima, Peru and founded that country's first academic anesthesiology department. In 1954, he became Chief of Anesthesiology at Baltimore City Hospital.


Together with James Elam, he rediscovered the airway, head tilt, chin lift (Step A) and the mouth-to-mouth breathing (Step B) components of CPR and influenced Norwegian doll maker Asmund Laerdal of Laerdal company to design and manufacture mannequins for CPR training called Resusci Anne. Safar, who began to work on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in 1956 at City Hospital, demonstrated in a series of experiments on paralyzed human volunteers that rescuer exhaled air mouth-to-mouth breathing could maintain satisfactory oxygen levels in the non-breathing victim, and showed that even lay people could effectively perform mouth-to-mouth breathing to save lives. He combined the A (Airway) and the B (Breathing) of CPR with the C (chest compressions), and wrote the book ABC of Resuscitation in 1957, which established the basis for mass training of CPR. This A-B-C system for CPR training of the public was later adopted by the American Heart Association, which promulgated standards for CPR in 1973.[1]

Other Achievements

Other achievements included the establishment of the United States' first intensive care unit in 1958. In 1961, he went to the University of Pittsburgh, where he established its notable academic anesthesiology department and the world's first intensive care medicine training program. In 1966, he was deeply moved by the death of his daughter, Elizabeth, at the age of 12 from an acute asthmatic crisis. He initiated the Freedom House Enterprise Ambulance Service, one of the first prehospital emergency medical services in the United States in 1967 and developed standards for emergency medical technician (EMT) education and training, as well as standards for mobile intensive care ambulance design and equipment. He co-founded the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine in 1976, which is dedicated to saving lives in major disasters. He stepped down from the chairmanship of anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh and founded the International Resuscitation Research Center (now the University of Pittsburgh Safar Center for Resuscitation Research) in 1979. He practiced and taught clinical anesthesiology at Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh until the age of 65, but continued his research activities until his death. His lifelong goal was to "save the hearts and brains of those too young to die."

He was nominated three times for the Nobel prize in medicine.

Safar died on 3 August 2003 in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania after a bout with cancer.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Srikameswaran, Anita (21 March 2002). "Dr. Peter Safar: A life devoted to cheating death". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  
  2. ^ Safar Center for Resuscitation Research (4 August 2003). "Dear Friends and Colleagues". Press release. Retrieved 14 September 2009.  

Further reading

External links



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