Scene Around: A Real Fair Haven First Aid Dummy

— Photos/Fair Haven Fire Department media

That’s no dummy? Well, yeah, it is. You may have seen this guy, girl or, more accurately, gender neutral dummy around the towns. It’s the Fair Haven First Aid CPR dummy — or, more politely and aptly, mannequin.

It gets toted around with first aiders, helping them demonstrate and train in CPR for those Fair Haven health emergencies. Most recently, over the weekend, the mannequin made an appearance at the Monmouth Day Care Center Touch-a-Truck event at Red Bank Middle School.

You could say that the dummy has saved the day, or many lives in absentia. You could also say that it, and/or many versions of it, has the most kissed face in the world. In fact, that is what is said about the mannequin called Resusci or Rescue Annie.

How did it get that name? Well, there’s a bit of a story behind it. It’s all about a pathologist, a drowned woman and a toy maker.

A woman who had drowned in the Seine in Paris sometime in the 1800s is the face of the mannequin. How? The pathologist in the morgue where she was taken in became enamored with her face, likening it to that of the famous Mona Lisa. She had a slight smile and closed eyes. The morgue pathologist casted the face in plaster and used it as a death mask. Before the advent of Halloween masks, death masks were typically used as a simple memento of the person whom died, a cast for other masks for various artistic purposes/portraits, or a just a primitive form of photography.

The mask of the woman, also known as L’Inconnue de la Seine, the Mona Lisa of the Seine or La Belle Italienne in the U.S., became an artwork fixture in many homes in the 1900s.

The mysterious drowned woman’s face had become famous. The face was seen all over. It became a model for many things as well as a muse, or inspiration, for many writers’ works.

So, when a toymaker was asked to design a doll with which EMTs could hone their CPR skills, he used that same face, which he had seen as a piece of art in his grandparents’ house, as a model. He thought the face was the perfect fit for the mannequin.

So CPR, Rescue or Resusci Anne was born. There are some strange twists to the story that are somewhat unsubstantiated, but that is the original gist.

Whether or not the real Anne committed suicide or was murdered remains a bit of a mystery. But, either way, in effect, someone who could not be saved is saving lives.

They call her Anne, but we’re wondering if the Fair Haven First Aid Squad should give her, him, or, more aptly, the gender neutral mannequin who has an unknown woman’s face, its own unique name.

So, what should the Fair Haven First Aid Squad’s CPR mannequin be called?

— Elaine Van Develde