Laerdal Medical AS started as a small publishing house in 1940, specializing in greetings cards and children's books. The company soon expanded into the manufacturing of wooden toys. Pioneering in soft plastics in the early 50s, Laerdal made millions of realistic play dolls and "furniture friendly" toy cars.
The know-how gained from producing toys, opened new doors into making realistic wound simulations. First aid and emergency medicine with an emphasis on training became our main field of activity. The turning of business focus is symbolized with a girl who died in the late 1890s.
The girl from the River Seine
At the turn of the 19th century, the body of a young girl was pulled from the River Seine in Paris. There was no evidence of violence and it was assumed she had taken her own life. Because her identity could not be established, a death mask was made; this was customary in such cases. The young girl’s delicate beauty and ethereal smile added to the enigma of her death.
Romantic stories that speculated on this mystery were published. According to one, her death was the result of an unrequited romance. This story became popular throughout Europe, as did reproductions of her death mask.
From the mask of tragedy to the kiss of life
Generations later, the girl from the River Seine was brought back to life when Åsmund S. Lærdal began the development of a realistic and effective training aid to teach mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Moved by the story of the girl so tragically taken by early death, he adopted her mask for the face of his new resuscitation-training manikin, Resusci Anne. Because he was convinced that if such a manikin was life-sized and life-like, students would be better motivated to learn this lifesaving procedure.
The Good Samaritan
With the introduction of the Resusci Anne manikin the company dedicated itself to advancing the cause of resuscitation and emergency care. The toy production was deemphasized, and consequently a new logo was needed to reflect our mission.
The image to be our emblem is an ancient one – the Good Samaritan. Our logo depicts the tale of the traveler whose selfless compassion and care saved the life of a total stranger. His attitude, empathy and actions are our inspiration for everything we do and develop.
Decades of development
In the 60s pre-hospital emergency medicine began to be seen as an extension of advanced hospital treatment. To increase the practical usefulness of these ideas Laerdal Medical developed easily portable equipment for ventilation and airway control, and began a tradition of offering equipment along with
complementary training aids.
In 1980 the Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine was founded. Over the years it has been able to support a considerable number of research, education and publication projects.
In the 80s early defibrillation was shown to decisively increase the survival rate of pre-hospital cardiac arrest. This triggered the development of our Heartstart semi-automatic defibrillator, enabling ambulance personnel without long medical training to provide this life saving treatment.
In the 90's our Stiffneck collars provided new possibilities for preventing needless injury and disablement from cervical spine injuries.
In January of 2000 Laerdal expanded its collaboration with Texas-based Medical Plastics Laboratories Inc. (MPL), by acquiring this innovative and exciting company. The company is now called Laerdal Texas and the flagship product produced there to date is SimMan. By acquiring MPL, new channels for sales and distribution opened up, and close cooperation with Laerdal’s organization in New York strengthened the company’s already strong position in the US market.
Laerdal is continuously developing and has been able to drive the market with innovative product development. In 2002 Laerdal started its collaboration with Danish-based Sophus Medical when looking into interactive medical training products. By 2003 the company was fully acquired and is now called Laerdal Sophus. The company leads the field of micro simulation training, and extensive product launches covering educational micro simulation programs for pre-hospital, in-hospital and military segments took place in the first half of 2004.
As a natural extension of micro simulation, virtual reality now became interesting for Laerdal Medical to complete the product portfolio. Later in 2004 Laerdal purchased intellectual property and transfer of people called SimQuest. This group is now called Laerdal DC and will produce a cutting edge range of virtual reality products. The fist product – IV arm – was launched in the summer of 2004.
To strengthen the Therapy portfolio and the company’s position within this product range, STI was acquired in June 2003. This acquisition led to a more complete Therapy line, now being able to offer solutions within tube fixation and a broader line of spinal immobilization. In March 2004 Laerdal celebrated the official opening of a new factor y in China. The new factor y will enable the company to be better prepared for the future by providing not only a quality new factor y facility in the Far East, but also access to the rapidly growing China market.
Today, Laerdal Medical is dedicated to helping save lives with products for CPR training, Airway Management, Advanced Life Support Training, Spinal Motion restriction, Trauma Training, Monitoring, Defibrillation, Patient Simulation made for using traditional basic, intermediate and advanced training techniques combined with micro simulation and virtual reality.