BASIC LIFE SUPPORT VS. ADVANCED CARDIAC LIFE SUPPORT: UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE

By Zack Zarrilli

https://www.surefirecpr.com/


Today’s post will address one of the most common questions asked by first aid students: What’s the difference between basic life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) training programs?

When it comes to BLS and ACLS training programs, there are many factors to consider. Now, let’s examine both BLS and ACLS training programs, along with the differences between them.


WHAT IS BLS?

All healthcare providers are trained in BLS. And it’s just that – the basic first steps in stabilizing a patient. The primary goal of the responder is to stabilize the patient until he or she can be addressed by a first responder or taken to a hospital for further treatment.

BLS can be conducted without drugs, invasive procedures or medical equipment. As such, it consists of techniques like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) oropening a patient’s airway via the “head tilt” technique.

A BLS class is intended for nurses, medical assistants, doctors, EMTs, dentists, pharmacists and other medical personnel. It usually requires about 3.5 hours to complete and covers the following topics:

  • Administration of adult, child and infant CPR

  • Support for conscious and unconscious choking victims of all ages

  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and how they are used in emergencies

  • The importance of breathing barriers, bag valve masks and two-rescuer CPR

  • Cardiopulmonary emergencies and special resuscitation scenarios

After a student finishes a BLS class, he or she will receive a BLS certification card. This card verifies successful completion of a BLS class and will stay active for two years.


WHAT IS ACLS?

ACLS, as you can imagine, involves sophisticated techniques and procedures like initiating IV access, reading and deciphering electrocardiograms and administering emergency drugs.

During an ACLS class, students will learn about the following topics:

  • Recognition and management of respiratory issues and cardiac arrest

  • The importance of effective airway management

  • ACLS pharmacology terms and definitions

  • How to manage acute coronary syndromes and stroke

  • How to serve as both a leader and team member in a resuscitation team

ACLS training is ideal for medical personnel who will need to respond to cardiovascular emergencies. BLS is a pre-requisite for ACLS training as ACLS features a BLS review. The course requires about 12 hours to complete.


WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE: BLS OR BLS AND ACLS TRAINING?