BLS stands for Basic Life Support and consists of a LEVEL of medical care that doesn’t require invasive techniques or medications. There are many things such as oxygen therapy, splinting, bleeding control, bandaging, backboarding, taking vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, respirations and level of consiousness), etc. that make up this category. For example, if a person has a possible arm fracture, the act of stabilizing it, splinting and possibly securing it in a sling, is a BLS skill. Things like IVs, giving drugs, heart monitoring, intubation, etc. are Advanced Life Support skills or ALS.

CPR stands for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. It’s the act of performing chest compression and giving rescue breaths to a person who has no breathing or pulse in order to try to perfuse the vital organs with oxygenated blood and reverse premature death. All pre-hospital care providers and most hospital providers are required by law to be and to maintain a certification in CPR because it changes every few years. The Red Cross, and The American Heart Association both offer certification courses in CPR both for the general public, and for the ‘advanced rescuer’ or healthcare person.

Automated external defibrillators (AED) are an added tool in the fight to save lives. They are used on individuals who are suffering a cardiac arrest. AED’s can be installed in many different settings. The training to use this technology and become certified in it is accessible to anyone; there is no need for additional medical experience or education.

Choking because of an obstructed airway is a leading cause of accidental death. If a choking person is not coughing or is unable to speak, that’s your cue to perform the Heimlich maneuver immediately.