BLS Certification Manual: Introduction

What BLS Means

Basic Life Support (BLS) is a level of medical care which is used for patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be given full medical care by advanced life support providers.

    How BLS Works

    Basic Life Support (BLS) is a level of medical care used in emergencies when a patient's breathing or heartbeat has stopped, typically until they can be given full medical care at a hospital. BLS techniques can be performed by trained public bystanders or healthcare providers and include the following key steps:

    Assessment: First, ensure the scene is safe for both the rescuer and the victim. Check the victim for responsiveness by shouting and gently tapping. If there is no response, call for emergency help immediately and check for breathing and a pulse.

    Circulation: If there is no pulse, begin chest compressions. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim’s chest, place the other hand on top, and interlock your fingers. Keeping your arms straight, use your body weight to help you administer compressions that are at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Allow the chest to rise fully between compressions (this is crucial for the heart to refill between compressions).

    Airway: Open the victim's airway using a head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver. This involves tilting the head back and lifting the chin upwards, which helps to clear the airway by moving the tongue away from the back of the throat.

    Breathing: After the airway is opened, check for breathing. If the victim is not breathing or only gasping, provide rescue breaths. Pinch the nose shut, make a complete seal over the person’s mouth with your mouth, and give two breaths, each over 1 second, watching for the chest to rise.

    Defibrillation: If an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available, turn it on and follow the prompts. Apply the pads as directed by the AED while continuing chest compressions until the AED is ready to analyze the rhythm or deliver a shock, if necessary.

    The goal of BLS is to maintain circulation and breathing through circulation, airway management, and breathing (CBA) and to stabilize the victim until more advanced care becomes available.

      Why BLS Matters

      Basic Life Support (BLS) training is crucial because it empowers individuals to act swiftly and effectively in emergency situations where someone's life may be at risk. Having the skills to perform BLS can make the difference between life and death, especially during cardiac arrest, where timely intervention is critical. BLS techniques such as chest compressions and rescue breathing can maintain circulation and oxygenation until professional medical help arrives. Furthermore, widespread knowledge of BLS increases the likelihood that someone nearby can provide life-saving assistance during an emergency, making communities safer for everyone.