For three decades after Marshall Hall's 1856 strictures against "forcing methods" and bellows for artificial ventilation (AV), human "forced respiration" (equivalent to intermittent positive pressure ventilation) was virtually abandoned. Various arm-chest manoeuvres often proved inadequate to save life. After doctor and engineer George Fell, of Buffalo (New York) (1849-1918), failed to save the life of an opiate-poisoned patient using Silvester's popular method, he resolved to try his animal laboratory AV method (bellows and tracheotomy). Following his first success in a landmark case (1887), he better adapted the apparatus for human use and soon succeeded with further difficult cases, but was unable to raise enthusiasm for his "Fell method" of AV. His reports of successful rescues to prestigious Washington Congresses met derision (1887) and indifference (1893), although by then they detailed 28 "human lives saved", mostly after opiate poisoning, and a switch from tracheotomies to face masks (simpler, but with a few complications). Continuing with rescues throughout the 1890s, Fell personally achieved recoveries after AV for as long as 73.5 hours (1896), and over 78 hours (1899). He argued for his method repeatedly with many talks, much documentation, and pleas for its use in other ventilatory crises. Despite his endeavours and successes, Fell was unable to secure widespread uptake of forced respiration, but others adopted his principles. Joseph O'Dwyer modified Fell's face mask-tracheotomy system by incorporating an intralaryngeal tube, and this "Fell-O'Dwyer apparatus" was used for neurosurgical cases (1894), also revolutionising intrathoracic surgery (1899).
In 1952, Copenhagen was confronted with a poliomyelitis epidemic that involved the respiratory musculature in large numbers of patients. The anaesthetist B. Ibsen, who established carbon dioxide intoxication due to severe hypoventilation as the cause of death, proposed that the patients be treated by tracheostomy and positive pressure respiration in order to achieve better ventilation than with an iron lung. In the Netherlands, it was decided to organise the control ofthe epidemics on a nationwide basis. Various hospitals were asked to set up artificial respiration centres. In addition, the Beatrix Fund was set up in order to collect money for combating poliomyelitis. The epidemic reached the Netherlands in 1956. In Groningen University Medical Centre, 74 patients were admitted, of whom 36 had to be ventilated. In two cases, the mechanical ventilation could not be stopped and one of these was ultimately discharged home with chronic ventilation in 1960, thus becoming the first patient in the Netherlands to be given mechanical ventilation at home. The mechanical ventilation centres developed into the intensive care units as we know them today. Most of the forms of treatment now in use are based on the techniques thought up and elaborated by the pioneers working in the mechanical ventilation centres. The latest development in this series is the development of centres for home mechanical ventilation.