Basic Life Support, also referred to as BLS is a type of medical care used to sustain life while waiting for paramedics to arrive on scene or full medical care to be provided to a person. Although basic life support is a skill taught to first responders but it is also something that anyone could learn. However, for professional law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and people in certain jobs, such as day care and teaching, BLS certification would be required. In fact, BLS certification in these and other situations are usually mandatory.

While there are some professionals required to secure BLS certification, this type of training is highly recommended for everyone, especially parents. As most people know, accidents and other emergency situations arise out of nowhere so having the ability to take charge and save lives is a wonderful gift.

Services Associated with BLS

As a part of BLS training, an individual would gain knowledge about dealing with drowning victims, people choking, heart attack victims, and other forms of trauma until emergency services arrived and transported the person to a hospital for medical care by a licensed physician. In addition, many organizations that provide BLS certification now offer training for an Automated External Defibrillator or AED for heart attack patients.

Once a person has achieved BLS certification, if wanted they could move up to complete Advanced Life Support training and certification, otherwise referred to as ALS. Typically, both a BLS certification and ALS certification would include Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training, more commonly called CPR. One important note is that with research and education, methods for providing lifesaving skills change so even if someone had received training and/or certification only a few years prior, it would be critical to stay current.

Learning the ABCs

The primary focus with BLS certification is teaching people the ABCs of emergency care prior to a person being taken to the hospital. Each letter has a distinct meaning as outlined below:

  • A is for Airway – In this case, a person’s air passageway must be protected and maintained, allowing proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to sustain life. When conducting CPR, the person’s head and chin would be lifted back to keep the passageway open. In some cases, an Oropharyngeal airway device would be used for the mouth and a Nasopharyngeal airway for the nose.
  • B is for Breathing – Using the open airway, the lungs would need to be inflated and deflated for proper respiration. Depending on the situation, emergency oxygen might be offered to the person as a part of the breathing phase.
  • C is for Circulation – This means providing the person with adequate blood flow to tissue, most importantly, major organs so oxygen could be delivered to cells but to also aid in the elimination of metabolic waste. Along with CPR being performed to aid in blood supply, sometimes methods of controlling bleeding would also be used.

Tips for Achieving BLS Certification

Several organizations and government entities provide all necessary training for BLS certification. The one best known is the American Red Cross although the American Heart Association is also an excellent source. In addition, a person could talk to a local fire department or law enforcement department, hospitals, or community colleges to check on scheduled classes. Sometimes as a part of workplace health and safety, free classes are provided by employers as well.

The training involved for BLS certification is highly effective yet simple enough to learn that even a smaller child could comprehend. One of the best things a person could do for themselves, their family, and even the community would be to learn these lifesaving skills. To show just how valuable BLS is, consider that if a person were provided with CPR immediately after suffering a heart attack, survival rate would increase by 50% minimum.

Steps for BLS Certification

Some people get BLS and CPR confused and while the two are similar, they are different forms of emergency medical care. Actual steps needed to complete BLS certification might vary somewhat from one instruction facility to another but overall, they are quite similar. Obviously, the first thing would be to find where classes are being offered. Typically, a small fee would apply although there are situations in which training would be free.

Once the training facility had been chosen, the next step would involve getting hold of materials for studying. This material is usually offered prior to training where classes would be held. Taking time to study the information would make training easier but also more enjoyable. The primary topics covered in this material include CPR, as well as choking and drowning victims.

After going through training classes, a written test would be administered although actual formatting varies. With a passing score and the practical or hands-on test completed to include performing CPR on a specially designed mannequin, BLS certification would be confirmed.

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