Resuscitation Council (UK)

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Call The Experts

In a tense and dramatic episode of BBC One’s hit drama Call The Midwife, Stephen McGann’s Dr Patrick Turner had to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Jeannie when her heart stopped in the ambulance. 

In a show known for attention to detail in bringing the 1950s and early 1960s to life, getting the medial procedures as accurate as possible is an important part of the dramatisation - and for that, they called in the experts at the Resuscitation Council (UK).

CPR in 1964

According to our experts, combined compression and ventilation (mouth to mouth) was reported in 1960, which supports Dr Turner having that skill set to turn to in an emergency - but it would have been different from the CPR we know today.

In 1962 there were two useful resources launched for the public to learn CPR (a book called the ‘ABC Training Guide for the Public’, and a video, ‘Pulse of Life’) - indicating that GPs would likely have known the information already, and education was now moving on to the general public. 

There were no universal guidelines for CPR in the 1960s, so when it came to technique and performance, there were different options available. It 1964 it would have been a different speed and a different ratio of pushes to breaths than in CPR in 2019. It may have been a 5:1 ratio (for every 5 pushes on the chest, you give one breath) as demonstrated in this ‘Pulse of Life’ video from 1968, but it’s also possible it would have been done at a 6-8:1 ratio (for every 6-8 pushes on the chest, you’d deliver a breath) as in this video

CPR in 2019

While you may be less likely to find yourself in the back of an Ambulance with Dr Turner, cardiac arrests can happen to anyone, at anytime and CPR plays an essential role in giving someone their best chance of survival. 

In the UK there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital where the emergency medical services attempt to resuscitate the victim.[1] Fewer than 1 in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK [2], but the chance of survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can be increased two-to-threefold by the immediate provision of bystander CPR.[3]

Feeling Inspired?

In 2019, there are many ways you can learn how to save a life - including something you can do right now. Play our award-winning free film-in-a-game, Lifesaver, on your computer, tablet or mobile phone by visiting to ensure you’d know what to do in an emergency.


[1]↵  We Fight for every Heartbeat, Our Strategy to 2020, British Heart Foundation, 2014

[2]↵ Resuscitation to Recovery,

[3]↵ Resuscitation to Recovery,

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