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BLS stands for Basic Life Support. It refers to a level of medical care used to treat victims of life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be given full medical treatment at a hospital. BLS includes skills like CPR, controlling bleeding, treating shock, clearing airways, and use of AED.
The origins of BLS date back to the 1960s when cardiologists James Elam and Dr. Peter Safar developed the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. Their techniques spread rapidly and were adopted by medical professionals as well as the general public.
Today, getting certified in Basic Life Support is an important step for many healthcare providers and public safety professionals. A BLS certification course teaches critical skills needed to keep a patient alive until an ambulance arrives. Topics covered include CPR for adults, children, and infants, using an automated external defibrillator (AED), and relieving choking. Proper training and certification ensure responders have the ability to act quickly and confidently in an emergency situation where seconds count. Whether you work in healthcare or simply want to be prepared, having BLS certification can help save lives.
The meaning of BLS certification goes beyond just a certificate. It’s about empowering individuals with life-saving techniques. The BLS certification training course includes CPR, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) usage, and essential airway management.
BLS is a certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills of the BLS algorithm to respond to emergencies like choking, drowning, and cardiac arrests. The BLS certification training teaches critical, life-saving first-aid skills to both medical professionals and laypersons. In the US, BLS certification is accredited by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. The guidelines for proper BLS techniques and protocols are updated every 5 years to reflect the latest scientific research and best practices.
BLS certification is mandatory for many healthcare providers and public safety officers, including EMTs, nurses, doctors, lifeguards, and firefighters. It ensures these professionals can confidently administer lifesaving CPR, use AEDs, and provide basic first aid in critical emergencies. Proper training and certification give them the skills to act quickly and effectively when seconds count.
Though not required, BLS certification is also highly recommended for the general public. Anyone could encounter a situation where a First Aid response is needed before EMS arrives. Learning skills like CPR, choking relief, and bleeding control empowers ordinary people to help save lives in their community. Getting certified also spreads awareness of best practices so bystanders can at least direct others until professional help is available. Whether mandated or voluntary, BLS certification training is vital for equipping both medical personnel and good samaritans to respond in an emergency.
Image: BLS certification training elements
As already discussed, participants in the American Heart Association (AHA) BLS course cover how to quickly identify several life-threatening events, provide effective chest compressions, administer suitable ventilations, and initiate the early use of an AED. The following topics are covered when you enroll in the BLS certification program:
Most cardiac arrests—those with a leading cardiac cause—are treated first using cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The highest chances for survival with a sound neurological condition come from prompt chest compressions and, if necessary, a defibrillation shock from a bystander. Cardiac arrest can also result from unusual events such as suffocation, trauma, pulmonary embolism, unintentional hypothermia, anaphylaxis, or COVID-19, as well as while pregnant or during surgery.
The section on particular environments offers advice on how to handle cardiac arrest in places like cardiac surgery, catheterization labs, dialysis units, dental offices, commercial aircraft or air ambulances, sports fields, complex environments (like drowning, high altitude, avalanches, and electrical injuries), or mass casualty incidents.
Better odds of survival increase by performing CPR quickly before the emergency medical team arrives. The CPR techniques are lifesaving, and there are different techniques depending on the age of the victims. Infants, kids, and adults all require different levels of chest compression. Heart attacks are rising for various reasons, including lifestyle, escalating life issues, and workplace trends, contributing to increased heart attack cases. Quickly providing first-aid and CPR for heart attacks increases the chances of survival.
Effective CPR is essential for the victim’s survival. You learn the fundamentals of CPR in the BLS training to keep the cardiac arrest victims alive while waiting for specialist assistance. There are different aspects of high-quality CPR Training. The following factors are included in high-quality CPR training:
Any blockage in the airway is considered an airway obstruction. The airway is a complex network of tubes that carries the air you breathe via your mouth, nose, and lungs. A blockage may deprive your lungs entirely or partially of air. While some airway blockages are mild, some are severe crises that demand prompt medical care. The following are symptoms of severe obstruction:
For adults choking, you need to place your hands below the victim’s ribcage and the fist slightly above the navel in the center of their stomach without touching their lower sternum. The thrust needs to be performed until the victim feels relief or awakens. Perform CPR till the help arrives.
Use back punches or chest thrusts for infants younger than one year old to eliminate the blockage. Don’t try blind-finger swift; instead, Call 911 for professional assistance.
AEDs are given when the heartbeat is dangerously fast due to disrupting the heart’s electrical activity. The patients’ lives can be saved using AED in such critical situations. The AED device shocks the patient’s heart to restore its function. The devices are straightforward to use, even for non-professionals. The device is programmed to diagnose a patient’s heart conditions in a shockable rhythm.
It is almost impossible to rescue a cardiac arrest victim without AED. Though AED is readily available in public facilities, very few people are knowledgeable or comfortable using it. Despite the device being simple to operate, special precautionary steps still need to be taken.
The core principles of Basic Life Support center around rapidly assessing a victim’s condition and intervening with appropriate lifesaving techniques. The key goals of BLS are to preserve brain function, maintain breathing, stop bleeding, and stabilize fractures or other trauma.
The core principle unifying the BLS algorithmic approach is to quickly stabilize the victim and provide oxygen until EMS arrives. Proper training ensures BLS providers learn when and how to apply each intervention for optimal lifesaving results.
BLS certification is highly recommended for several categories of professionals as well as general community members.
Healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, EMTs, and paramedics should be BLS certified so they can rapidly assess and stabilize patients in emergency scenarios. Proper training ensures they have the skills to perform CPR, use AEDs, control bleeding, and more.
Public safety officers like firefighters, police officers, and lifeguards often act as first responders. BLS certification equips them with the ability to provide immediate, lifesaving aid before transporting victims to the hospital.
Athletic coaches, teachers, childcare workers, and other personnel responsible for people’s safety need certification to properly care for others in their charge during an emergency.
Regular citizens with no medical background can also benefit from BLS training. Certification spreads awareness and empowers everyday people to provide basic aid to loved ones or strangers until professional help arrives.
Overall, BLS certification helps both medical specialists and laypersons quickly recognize life-threatening conditions and intervene with appropriate lifesaving techniques. All who aim to be prepared as potential first responders should consider certification.
BLS Certification card is valid for two years from the date of issue. If your BLS certificate expires, you can get recertified by enrolling in a BLS recertification course within 30 days of the expiry date. Here is the detailed blog on how to renew your AHA BLS certification.
Note: You can get BLS recertification online with in-person skills.
Yes, you can take a BLS course online. HeartStart CPR offers online BLS classes designed to provide the same level of training and certification as in-person courses. These online courses are convenient for those who may not have the time or means to attend a physical class.
The BLS certification for healthcare providers takes approximately 4 hours for initial certification and 3 hours for recertification. Enroll in our BLS certification classes.
The American Heart Association recommends renewing your BLS certification every 2 years. This is because the techniques and procedures of BLS are constantly evolving, and it is essential to stay up-to-date on the latest information.
BLS Certification is the initial course you take to learn the fundamentals of Basic Life Support. Once you’ve completed this course and obtained your certification, it’s valid for 2 years. After this period, you’ll need to take a BLS Recertification course. This recertification course is a refresher, ensuring you’re updated on new techniques or guidelines. It’s typically shorter than the initial certification course.
If your BLS certification expires, it’s crucial to undergo recertification as soon as possible. This ensures that you remain competent and can provide adequate care during emergencies.
BLS training and CPR training are closely related but not precisely the same. BLS training encompasses a broader range of skills and knowledge than CPR training alone. Individuals learn how to perform high-quality CPR on different people of different ages (adults, old, children, infants, and pregnant women).
CPR training is a specific technique to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation until emergency medical help arrives. CPR training involves performing chest compression and rescue breaths to support the heart and lungs.
On the other hand, BLS training ensures that the trainee gets complete knowledge of CPR and other techniques for saving lives. A BLS training course includes CPR as a crucial component, using an AED device, airways management, and responding to choking emergencies. BLS training equips individuals with broader knowledge to respond to emergencies effectively.