What is the BLS Certification?

If you’ve ever looked into how to perform CPR, you may have come across the acronym BLS in your research.

This stands for Basic Life Support, and it’s become somewhat of a source of confusion for many.

BLS denotes the care a patient might receive during a medical emergency.

While many use the two terms CPR and BLS interchangeably, they are not the same.

In fact, basic life support typically involves things that are outside the scope of CPR, such as the administration of oxygen or resuscitation team dynamics.

To clarify things further, let’s take a closer look at exactly what’s involved with BLS certification.

What is taught in a BLS class?


BLS certification is designed to verify that an individual has been sufficiently trained in resuscitation and has successfully demonstrated the required level of competency of the core skills involved in delivering life support care to a person suffering from cardiac arrest.

BLS certification does not provide permission to deliver care, nor does it imply any type of obligation to act during a medical crisis.

It simply serves as proof that the person in question has, indeed, been appropriately trained and is competent.

Coursework for BLS certification should cover the following key topics:

  • Critical concepts of effective resuscitation
  • Use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)
  • CPR for adults, children and infants
  • Rescue breathing for all ages
  • Bag mask techniques for all ages
  • Choking for all ages
  • CPR with an advanced airway in place (breathing tube)

Who is the BLS Certification meant for?


In contrast with CPR, basic life support training and certification is designed with the medical professional in mind.

That’s why most professional rescuers - such as nurses, paramedics and lifeguards – are required by their employer to train and obtain their BLS certification.

For the everyday layperson who simply wants to know how to assist in a medical emergency, CPR is typically sufficient.

Why should I take the BLS Certification


The main goal of BLS certification is to equip professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver the necessary care in a life-threatening emergency situation.

The fact is, people can suffer a cardiac event anywhere and at any time.

BLS training and certification ensures that the card holder is able to step in and deliver swift, accurate care, thereby improving the chances of a positive outcome.

It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

As such, employers want to know that their staff is prepared to act in any situation.

How do I get the BLS Certification?


There are a number of different ways to obtain a BLS certification, and the method you choose will ultimately depend on your needs and preferences.

In-person courses are held on designated dates and times and led by instructors.

Online BLS certification is another option, and one which many find favorable, particularly due to its lower cost and greater degree of flexibility. (Read more about online medical certification here.)

Whichever method you choose, be sure that you’re following coursework that is in line with the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines.

The bottom line is, BLS certification doesn’t have to be confusing.

Understanding the difference between BLS, CPR and other medical certifications, along with why each is important and how to obtain those credentials, can make things much easier and straightforward.