Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Blast From the Past (Literally)

While talking with some friends last night,

my friend Jill mentioned she had a CPR class scheduled early this morning.

I was FLOODED with memories of Resusci-Annie being brought into our classroom in elementary school.

Do you remember Resusci-Annie?

Smart blue jogging suit, 

white Keds,

messy blonde hair,

breath that smelled strongly of rubbing alcohol.


Ringing any bells?

Resusci-Annie came to our elementary school as part of the BAT (Basic Aid Training) program through the American Red Cross.

BAT pin

I remember mom volunteers teaching us how to keep our cool as we took turns practicing calling our local emergency numbers on one of those old-fashioned high-cradle phones with a mouth piece that weighed seriously 8 pounds.

This was all pre-9-1-1, people.

I remember taking home a BAT sticker with our local fire, police and poison control phone numbers on it and putting it on our Harvest Gold rotary wall phone with the cord that could stretch all the way into my bedroom almost.

We also learned about water safety from my friend Kim’s mom and when the ice was thick enough to safely ice skate on a lake or pond. 

When she taught us that, I remember thinking, 

“That’s not what Dad said.

But then again, I had already fallen through the ice 
on a pond at that point.

Clearly, Dad needed BAT training.

But my FAVORITE was the days Resusci-Annie came.

She came in with a professional of some sort, I think,

maybe the school nurse or an EMT.

I don’t know, I was focused on the suitcase they were carrying.

Resusci-Annie in a suitcase

The one that carried an adult-sized rubber mannequin that I got the pleasure of mouth-breathing and pounding back to life.

I can just see my 4th grade Dorothy Hamill-haired self wriggling in excitement in her Wrangler jeans and denim vest doing a happy clap as they pulled Annie out of the suitcase.

It truly was a highlight for me.

Which speaks volumes.

The appropriate professional would lay out Annie on a table and we’d line up to take turns mouth-to-mouthing her and later giving her CPR.

So we got two trips up to Resusci-Annie.

They would wipe Annie’s mouth with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol between each kid and that tasted pretty yuck but it did not curb my excitement in taking a shot at bringing this poor ill-fated jogger back to life.

I took it very seriously.

But not everyone did.

One boy in our class (I must find out who),

was a little aggressive in the mouth-to-mouth and blasted Annie’s lungs full and then some.

So much so that a great toot sound that ended in a high whistle escaped Annie’s body.

There’s just no bringing a 4th grade class back after that.

Let’s face it, it would be hard for me 
to straighten up now in that situation.

The appropriate professional was fairly upset and made the announcement, 

over our snickers and giggles,

that the boy had surely just killed Annie.

Snickers and giggles turned into guffaws and for real laughing out loud.

Another highlight was who got to help stuff Annie back into the suitcase.

Seriously, we excitedly shoved our arms into the air with anxious

“Me! Me! Me!”

shouts hoping to help shove her in a hopelessly too small case.

Resusci-Annie shoved into a suitcase

How did we feel good about doing this to poor ol’ Annie?

This is what we discussed in my driveway last night, laughing and reminiscing.

Jill sent this photo to me from her CPR class this morning:

The new resusci-Andy

with the message:

“No Keds!”

Annie is now an Andy?!

With no arms, legs or lower torso?!

Are we supposed to believe that CPR is going to bring Andy back?

Clearly he has other needs.

And I SO wouldn’t raise my hand and 

“Me! Me! Me!”

for the honor to shove him into a suitcase

or duffel bag

or backpack

or large purse.

 Jill said there is no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation anymore.

Just CPR.

So that boy in my class is no longer a danger to the ill-fated jogging Annie’s of this world.

Although I can’t speak to his CPR technique.

It obviously wasn’t funny enough for me to remember.

Have any Resusci-Annie memories?
I’d love to hear them!


  1. Okay Karmen, I must let you know that after taking the class this morning, I did find out that there are still 2 breaths to every 30 compressions, but we could not even practice them on the dummy, because it did not have lungs. And I still got certified! One big takeaway--compressions are far more important than breaths! Oh and by the way....the instructor did mention not blowing too much air or blowing too forcefully into the victim or the air will enter the stomach instead of the lungs, causing gastric inflation, so your 4th grade instructor was right to be upset!

    1. Jill,
      First of all--congrats on getting certified!! SO INTERESTING about the compressions and that the Andy didn’t have any lungs for you to practice that part of the training. And the fact that the boy in my class did in fact, kill Resusci-Annie with his mouth blast makes me want to figure out who it was even more! I’m on a mission!!!

  2. Another interesting side friend and I brought up "Annie" and the instructor did not know what we were talking about!! I didn't think I was that old!

    1. Jill--

      We AREN’T that old!! Clearly, they are letting children teach CPR certifications now!! :)

  3. I must admit, Karmen, you make those Resuci-Annie visits sound like so much fun that I'm sorry to say I never got to enjoy the same experience. But I think if our school had done that, I might have been the kid in the corner looking slightly traumatized. :)

    1. Angel,

      So many people have told me that I was alone in being excited on Resusci-Annie days. Even Monte said he dreaded mouth-to-mouthing her because the rubbing alcohol set off his gag reflex!

  4. That must have been before my time, but I remember them bringing this tiny little house that was towed on a trailer behind a pickup truck. It had fake smoke in it and you had to crawl through pretending it was a fire. We escaped through the upstairs window. I adored that little house and would have practiced fire safety in it for my entire childhood. Annie though, she looks like a great lady. Sorry I never got to meet her!

  5. We had the Annie doll the last few times I certified. I remember having to shake her by the shoulder first and say, "Annie, Annie, are you okay!?"


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