What is BLS?

BLS, or Basic Life Support, is an emergency level of medical treatment used when a victim’s heart has stopped beating. The BLS procedure basically circulates a minimal amount of oxygenated blood throughout the person’s body in order to minimize or slow the rate that different parts of the body are damaged. While this is not a sustainable method of preserving life, it is a valuable time-buyer before emergency care or an AED arrives.

The process is fairly simple and is often remembered as the “ABCs” of CPR. “A” stands for airway and reminds the BLS performer to ensure the airway is clear and air is able to travel in freely. “B” stands for breathing, which tells the practitioner to breathe into the victim’s mouth and attempt to oxygenate the blood. “C” stands for circulation and tells the BLS provider to compress on the victim’s chest to circulate the now-oxygenated blood throughout the victim’s body. This is all after checking to make sure the victim even needs CPR, calling for 911, etc.

If you are ready to get started, read about how to get BLS certification.

What is BLS Certification?

BLS certification is basically a training company’s assurance that a given person has been presented learning material and has demonstrated competency of BLS in the form of a test. The standards for BLS learning material vary from country to country, but are mostly rooted in the science presented by the ECC/ILCOR, an international organization focused around cardiac care. BLS certification usually is demonstrated in the form of a wallet card carried by the certified individual. This card will usually have the training company, the card holder’s name, the curriculum covered, and the standards used within the training.

Who Needs BLS Certification?

Generally, those required to have BLS are in some field with a degree of liability or risk. Workers in the medical field, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, CNAs, medical assistants, etc., are all great examples of this type of field. Police officers, firefighters, lifeguards, and even school bus drivers are required to have BLS (though usually referred to as CPR) as part of their training because of the high level of risk within their profession. Some professionals are required to have BLS as a part of their licensure (which varies from state to state). Others are required by their association, state regulation, or national regulation. However, most professionals are required to have a valid BLS certificate by their employer.

Employers may require their employees to hold BLS cards for a variety of reasons. They may ask that their employees be certified because of an agency requirement. They may also be required to maintain a level of readiness by an auditing agency such as OSHA, CARF, or Joint Commission. The certification requirement could also be a simple matter of decreasing liability if an incident occurs on company property. Whatever the reason, many people are required to hold a valid BLS certification card.

Valid BLS certifications must be maintained. By most guidelines, a BLS card expires after 2 years. This is why more people usually need to obtain a BLS recertification. Learn the difference between BLS certification and BLS recertification.

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