Royal Humane Society
In 1774, two doctors, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan established the Royal Humane Society (RHS), originally called the “Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned,” in London. They created the society as they were concerned with the amount of persons who were wrongly taken for dead, therefore they wanted to focus on resuscitation.1
In 1783, King George III became the first patron of the society, and in 1787 the society became officially known as the Royal Humane Society.2 The RHS focused on five key aims, specifically aimed towards drowning, this included publishing information on how to save people from drowning, providing volunteer medical assistants, and paying people for successfully bringing someone back to life. The emphasis that the RHS held on drowning was rooted in that few people in the 18th century knew how to swim. A year before the founding of the society, 123 people drowned in London alone.3
In 1835, the society built a “Receiving House” in Hyde Park where first aid could be given, it remained in the park until 1954.4 In 1949, the Royal Charter incorporated the society. Today, the society continues to operate out of its headquarters in London with the aim to recognize the bravery of men, women, and children who have saved or tried to save someone else's life. From its foundation in 1774 to 2003, the society gave over 84,000 awards for bravery.5
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