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Early use of CPR saves teenager

Year 1812, John Thomas, assistant to Mr Charles Alderman, Surgeon, Battersea

Read by Dr Molly Dineen – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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I beg leave to state to you for the information of the Royal Humane Society, the following circumstance which happened on Friday afternoon: as a boat with some young people in it was coming down the Thames from Putney, Charles Frederick Wainburg, fifteen years of age, of No 7, Castle Street, Leicester Square, fell overboard, and was picked up by the men belonging to the boat, and was landed at Battersea and conveyed to the Swan public house, kept by Thomas Smith. I was requested to see him immediately.

On my arrival at six o’clock, I found him in a warm bed, speechless, very much convulsed and his extremities quite cold: I immediately applied bottles with hot water to his feet, knees and arm-pits, and friction with volatile spirits to the chest and temples: in about fifteen minutes I had the pleasing satisfaction to see signs of recovery by his trying to speak, but he could not articulate, neither had he the power of deglutition.

in a few minutes after this favourable sign, he changed in a moment, the pulsation in the wrist ceased, and the action of the heart was not perceptible, the countenance was now livid: finding this unfavourable change, I placed him before a large fire, and had recourse to the most powerful means recommended by the Royal Humane Society. I endeavoured to expand the lungs by alternate pressure on the chest: the nostrils and throat were also stimulated till he brought up a quantity of water, which relieved him so much that in a few minutes he was able to speak and swallow some warm brandy and water.

He was now put to bed and had some warm cordial: in a few minutes he fell into a comfortable sleep, in which I left him about eight o’clock, under the care of John Higgs. He slept well all night, and was delivered to his friends the next morning quite recovered.

I have the pleasure to be, Sir, your very obedient servants, John Thomas, assistant to Mr C Alderman, Surgeon.

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