Dr. Peter Safar, 79, a pioneer in emergency medicine who was regarded as the father of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, died of cancer Sunday at his home in suburban Pittsburgh.
Dr. Safar was credited with establishing the country's first physician-staffed, multidisciplinary intensive care unit. He also developed the "ABCs of CPR," a lifesaving technique taught to everyone from surgeons to Boy Scouts.
He established the first modern intensive care unit in 1958 at the old Baltimore City Hospitals. Also in the 1950s, he developed a method of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation that he combined with chest compression, a rescue technique that had already been researched and documented by others. The result was a first-aid method that many people learn using a lifelike mannequin known as a Resusci-Anne doll.
Born in 1924 in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Safar studied at the University of Vienna and Yale University before studying anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the 1950s, he established anesthesiology departments in Peru and Baltimore, and was briefly on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
In the 1960s, he was a founding member of the U.S. National Research Council's Committee on EMS. He also established guidelines for ambulance design and emergency medical technician and paramedic training.
He stepped down as chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's anesthesiology department in 1979 and went on to establish the International Resuscitation Research Center, which he ran until 1994. It later became the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research.
Most recently, Dr. Safar was studying whether cooling the body just a few degrees can prevent brain damage in people who survive cardiac arrest but are left unconscious.