Basic Life Support and Certification: Where and How to Get It?
Basic life support, or BLS, is a type of medical assistance that is provided to patients who have faced a life-threatening condition until professional healthcare workers (paramedics, nurses, surgeons, physicians) can offer them the full range of medical care they require. BLS is performed by either trained medical workers or usual people who have found themselves in emergency settings where other people need help.
What’s Included in BLS Courses?
Basic life support courses that follow the guidelines of the AHA or basic life support from the American Red Cross (ARC) usually cover the following modules:
- CPR and performance of CPR on newborns, older children, and adults;
- Use of AED, or Automated External Defibrillator. Students can also learn about specific conditions that benefit from AED usage as well as ventricular fibrillation as part of the normal BLS training;
- First aid training where students learn how to treat victims of any types of problems, be it a car accident or mild injuries in a home environment;
- Wound care that includes punctured and open chest wounds, cuts and scratches, etc. as well as keeping wounds clean to prevent further infection;
- Fractures. If a person has a broken bone, sufficient care must be provided to ensure his or her survival and healing. So during the basic life support training course for healthcare providers students will learn how to respond to broken bones, bruising, and other cases;
- Overdose and poisoning. You’ll find out what to do in the event of a drug overdose, ingestion of poisonous substances, or what to do when a patient has anaphylactic shock after being bitten or stung;
- Burns, their classifications (i.e. first-, second-, and third-degree burn injuries), and how to treat them before the ambulance arrives and the patient is taken to the hospital;
- Choking. It’s common for infants and toddlers to choke on food and small objects lying around the house, however, adults also often need this type of assistance. Learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on older children and adults and what to do with unconscious patients;
- Strokes and seizures. Recognizing the signs of strokes and seizures and know how to respond to them as fast and effectively as possible.
What Is BLS Certification?
The American Heart Association offers the basic life support certification, whereas CPR classes which can also be included in the course are intended more for healthcare professionals.
Aside from the standard CPR training, the courses dive a little further into areas like:
- CPR in a medical or healthcare settings;
- AED classes;
- Simulations of some realistic situations with recreated teams, rescuers, and patients;
- Provision of additional medical information, such as how to control bleeding or put on oxygen masks;
- Improvement of the compression fraction of the chest, etc.
When the classes are over, students have to take the exam. When passed, they receive basic life support certification that is valid for two years.
How to Renew BLS Certification?
In reality, there’s no such thing as renewed certification for BLS training so far. Individuals must re-enroll in a BLS certification course by Saving Hands (similar to renewing a CPR certification) to maintain their certification. And there is a reason for that: the information and skills required to pass the test are very important and are updated in alignment with the most current medical research and findings. So the algorithm of providing basic life support for adults has to be renewed and practiced.
The good news is that the training is just four hours long, so it won’t be an issue for most students who chose to recertify. Moreover, lots of people find this course useful as a refresher just to make sure they haven’t missed anything and to get more theoretical and practical knowledge.