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Mouth to Mouth Rescue Breathing

Description of 1732 Resuscitation by William Tossach

    On 3 December 1732, at Alloa, Scotland, local surgeon William Tossach resuscitated a suffocated coal-pit miner, James Blair, by mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. The worker had been "in all appearance dead,"  after being been carried up 34 fathoms from the mine "to the Mouth of the Pit, which was between half an Hour and three Quarters after he had been left in the Bottom of it."

    The technique is believed to have been in use from ancient times, so Tossach was probably not the first to utilize expired air ventilation. However, he left what appear to be the first clinical description of the procedure in the medical literature, which he wrote twelve years later. 

    "The colour was natural, except where it was covered with Coal-dust; his eyes were staring open, and his Mouth was gaping wide; his Skin was cold; there was not the least pulse in either Heart or Arteries, and not the least Breathing could be observed; So that he was in all appearance dead. I applied my Mouth close to his, and blowed my breathe as strong as I could; but having neglected to stop his Nostrils all the Air came out at them; Wherefore taking hold of them with one hand and holding my other on his Breast at the left Pap I blew again mv breath as strong as I could. Raising his Chest fully with it: and immediately I felt six or seven very Quick Beats of the heart: his Thorax continued to play. and the Pulse was felt soon after in the Arteries.

    I then opened a Vein in his Arm; which, after giving a small Jet, sent out the Blood in Drops only, for a Quarter of an Hour … And then he bled freely. Tho' the lungs continued to play, after I had first set them in Motion; yet for more than half an Hour, it was only as a pair of bellows would have done, that is, he did not so much as grone, and his Eyes and Mouth remained both open. After about an Hour he began to yawn, and to move his Eyelids, Hands, and Feet. In an Hour more he came prettv well to his Senses, and could take Drink; but knew nothing at all that had happened after his lying down at the Foot of the Ladders, till his waking "

Reference:Tossach WA. A man in appearance recovered by distending the lungs with air. Med Essays and Obs Soc Edinb, 1744; v (part 2): 605-608.

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