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What is BLS - Basic Life Support Certification?


Doctor performing CPR on Asian patient in the emergency room
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Definition: Basic Life Support (BLS) certification is a relatively short training course required of many health professionals to help revive, resuscitate, or sustain a person who is experiencing cardiac arrest or respiratory failure of some sort. This could include a drowning victim, heart attack or stroke patient, or any scenario where breathing or heartbeat have been compromised.

As the name of the certification implies, BLS is the most basic certification and can be obtained with a few hours of class from the Red Cross, AMA, American Heart Association, or other medical association that offers such courses.

Therefore, BLS is often required of people who work with young children, with elderly people, or who are lifeguards, coaches, or anyone involved with people on a regular basis who could have any sort of incident.

The primary skills taught in the BLS course include basic mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR (chest compressions to circulate blood). No medical equipment is needed and there are no invasive procedures taught in BLS. One of the key points taught in BLS are the "ABCs":

  • Airway - clearing any obstructions from the airway to allow air to flow to the lungs
  • Breathing - making sure lungs are filling with air
  • Circulation - ensuring blood is circulating through the body

Typically the course consists of practicing the resuscitation exercises on a "dummy", and demonstrating correct response in role-play situations. Additionally, there is a written portion of the certification that shows you have acquired the basic knowledge of what to do, and when.

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