What is BLS Certification?
BLS stands for “Basic Life Support,” and refers to emergency medical care that is given to a victim who needs their vital signs sustained until they can reach a hospital for further care. It also sometimes known as BCLS or “Basic Cardiac Life Support” though this is older terminology and has been replaced with the former acronym. A BLS certification teaches an individual the skills they need to support a drowning or choking victim, or someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest until they reach the hospital.
The scope of your training may vary depending on where you live. In the United States, BLS training teaches students the skills necessary to help a drowning victim, someone who has suffered cardiac or respiratory arrest, and teaches them to clear a foreign body airway obstruction. In some professions, a BLS certification may be required in addition to learning Advanced Cardiac Life Support protocols.
In general, this certification will not include training in the use of any medical equipment, such as defibrillator. In positions where this knowledge is required, you may be asked to undergo additional certification and training, such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support. This is usually the case in positions such as EMT, nursing, and for healthcare providers such as doctors, paramedics, and firefighters.
How to get a BLS Certification
There are a number of organizations that offer this credential:
- The American Red Cross offers BLS classes that last around five hours. Generally, these classes will cost approximately, $110.
- The American Heart Association offers three hour classes that can be taken at locations across the country. Prices will vary depending on which training center you use, but average around $85. In some cases, a blended certification option may be offered, depending on your local area and training center’s requirements.
- Online – there are a number of websites that offer the ability to obtain this credential online. Additionally, some sites offer a blended approach, which combines online training with classroom instruction. The time required for this type of instruction can vary depending on which course you are taking.
Online BLS training versus classroom training
In most cases online training is just as good as classroom training. In fact, even the American Heart Association allows you to take at least a portion of our training online. Online classes provide the same instruction as classroom instruction, however you will not receive the hands-on interaction. One of the main benefits of online certification is that the theoretical models can be completed on your own schedule; classes are delivered via written or video instruction. This is very convenient for adults who are already working or who have other obligations to fulfill. It is also an excellent choice for people who live in rural areas, where attending classroom instruction may require a long drive, or in areas where there are no local certification classes offered.
For many working adults and teenagers, a blended certification approach may provide the best quality instruction. In a blended approach, students are allowed to complete theoretical learning modules online, while still attending classes for an hour or two at a scheduled time in order to receive hands-on instruction and demonstrate their skills in a more realistic environment. This ensures that the students truly have a thorough grasp of the concepts and procedures that they have learned.
Who needs a BLS certification?
There are a number of professions that require you to receive this credential. In general, healthcare providers such as nurses, paramedics, physicians assistants, and physical therapists are required to receive this type of certification. Additionally, first responders such as firefighters, EMTs, and police officers are also required to have it. Additionally, there are other groups that may be required to have one even though it would not appear to be a normal part of their job description.
When applying to adopt a child or to serve as a foster parent, you may be asked to acquire a Basic Life Support. In many cases, this will be offered as part of a larger parenting class and is required to ensure that you can adequately serve the children who are placed in your care. Basic Life Support is also often required of teachers, babysitters, daycare providers, and elderly hospice caregivers.
These professionals come into contact with people and children in situations where it may be possible for them to suffer an injury or other event that may require the services of someone who is BLS certified. In order to ensure the safety of everyone involved, BLS certification may be required in additional situations as well.
BLS certification versus BLS recertification
In general, the main difference between receiving your initial BLS certification and recertifying will be your experience level. If you have been through training before and still hold a valid BLS certification card, you will be able to simply recertify. If, however your certification has expired, you may be required to go through a full training class again.
While many professionals find having to continually undergo recertification tedious and unnecessary, it is important that medical equipment and procedures are constantly being refined and improved. By renewing your certification every two years or so, you can ensure that you remain up to date on all of the latest equipment and techniques, even if you are using your skills every day in the course of your job. Requiring all healthcare officials to hold a valid BLS certification ensures a quality and standard of care. When this is the result, a few hours of classes is a small price to pay.
For those providers who are particularly busy, one solution may be to complete your BLS recertification classes online. Taking advantage of the wealth of online training that is available allows you to keep your certification up-to-date on your own time in smaller segments.
BLS certification versus CPR
There are times when you may come across a job posting that requires a BLS certification when you’re already CPR certified. Are you still qualified? In some cases, the answer is yes, but not always. Generally, BLS for healthcare providers is given to individuals who work at the healthcare provider level. In some cases, a general CPR certification may involve learning skills such as maintaining an airway and supporting breathing and circulation, but will not teach the use of equipment such as defibrillator. If this has been the case with your CPR class, you will not be qualified to fill a position that requires a full BLS certification. Basically the difference lies in the level and complexity of care you are able to provide in the case of an emergency.
Even when a BLS certification is not required by your employer, it is a valuable skill to learn. Online classes and blended class opportunities make obtaining your certification both easy and convenient. Once certified, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you can help a victim in the event of an emergency situations or a disaster. If you are a parent or regularly in a situation where you are in contact with large groups of children or adults, having a BLS certification is a valuable asset that is sure to make you stand out to potential employers.
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