The late Lars Mogensen, a distinguished cardiologist from Stockholm, was the true father of the ERC. Dr Mogensen had been impressed by the success of the national resuscitation councils in Scandinavia and in the United Kingdom but favoured more international collaboration - and in particular a greater involvement of cardiologists. He had been instrumental in the agreement by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) to hold a symposium on resuscitation during the Fourth Joint Meeting of Working Groups that took place in Brighton in 1985. The symposium highlighted the many important controversies and problems that existed in resuscitation medicine (Eur Heart J1987: 8, 438-43).
This encouraged Lars Mogensen to suggest in 1986 that the ESC should set up a permanent Working Group. Eventually this idea was put formally to the Council of ESC. They were generally supportive and agreed that it should be debated by the General Assembly at the meeting in Vienna in 1988. By this time, the European Society for Intensive Care Medicine and the European Academy of Anaesthesiology had already moved to set up their own working groups on resuscitation. Those who had been involved in the process for Cardiology were hugely disappointed when the idea was turned down by the Assembly on the basis that the number of Working Groups was limited and that there were other strong contenders for the available places.
After the rejection of a working group by the ESC, a group of cardiologists who had been strongly supportive met in a refreshment tent at the same meeting in Vienna to discuss the outcome. In addition to Lars Mogensen, they included Leo Bossaert, Douglas Chamberlain, Stig Holmberg, John Camm, and Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe. Almost immediately an alternative strategy was agreed. There should be a group but it should be multidisciplinary and independent. Leo Bossaert offered facilities at the University of Antwerp to discuss what the new organisation might be called, what might be its objectives, and who might be invited initially to join the group. The meeting took place in December 1988 under the Chairmanship of Douglas Chamberlain, and led to the formation of a steering committee that included Peter Baskett (UK), Leo Bossaert (Belgium), John Camm (UK), Douglas Chamberlain (UK), Herman Delooz (Belgium), Erik Edgren (Sweden), Tom Evans (UK), Nevil Hart (Netherlands), Stig Holmberg (Sweden), Paul Hugenholtz (Netherlands), Rudolph Juchems (Germany), Andrew Marsden (UK), Cameron Moffat (UK), Lars Mogensen (Sweden), Arsene Mullie (Belgium), Narciso Perales (Spain), Erik Sandoe (Denmark), Daniel Scheidegger (Switzerland), Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe (UK) and David Zideman (UK). It was agreed to set up an organisation to be called the European Resuscitation Council (ERC). In August1989 the steering committee became the first Executive committee and by then had official representation from the ESC, the European Academy of Anaesthesiology, and the European Society for Intensive Care Medicine. Peter Baskett was the first elected Chairman and Leo Bossaert the first Honorary Secretary. The first General Assembly took place in June 1990 at the ESC congress in Amsterdam.
The first major conference of the ERC was in Brighton in 1992 to which American and Australian colleagues were invited. The move to wider international cooperation that had been proposed at the American Heart Association at a meeting in Dallas in 1991 was thus strengthened, and a liaison committee that later became known as ILCOR was established at the ERC conference.