BLS is an abbreviation for ‘Basic Life Support’ and is a reference to the emergency medical care given to a victim whose vital signs need to be sustained until they can get further care at a hospital.
BLS training provides individuals with the skills they need to support a victim of cardiac arrest, choking, and drowning in a pre-hospital setting.
The techniques used by BLS certified people are generally non-invasive and do not include medicine but instead focus on using life-preserving techniques such as CPR to maintain the victim’s vital signs to avoid brain damage or death.
The three factors that BLS certified individuals are directly trained to manage are the victim’s circulation, airway, and breathing.
A BLS certificate is commonly required for those that have jobs in the healthcare industry or people that work with young children, the elderly, or other roles which include the responsibility for the safety of others.
Having a valid BLS certificate is proof that an individual has taken a class and passed the required exams. In theory, a person that is has a BLS license has the knowledge and skill-set required to perform CPR / BLS in the event of an emergency.
Once certified, you are required to renew your certification every two years to refresh your knowledge and skills as well as to stay up to date with updated guidelines.
What’s the Difference Between CPR Certification and BLS Certification?
Well, the short answer is that there is no difference between CPR certification and BLS certification. The term BLS is simply the term usually associated with those in the healthcare industry.
The question you need to ask yourself, or your employer, is what is the purpose of the certification?
If your job is in the healthcare profession or emergency services, then you will likely need a Healthcare Provider level CPR certification.
Jobs That Require BLS Certification
If you are required to get a BLS certification, you will need to take to take a CPR course that is geared to Professional Rescuers and Healthcare Providers and not for regular laypeople.
Here are examples of some professions that typically require BLS certification:
- Physical Therapists
- Physician’s Assistants
- Police Officers
- Security Personnel
How to Get BLS Certification
There are a few options to get BLS certified:
- American Heart Association: The current leader in the marketplace for certifications is the American Heart Association. They pretty much set the standards for CPR and BLS practices. During their traditional classroom-based courses, you are taught everything you need to know. You can find a class near you by using the AHA class locator. Course length is 3 hours and price varies by training center but costs approximately $85.
- American Red Cross BLS: They also offer BLS classes which they call BLS for Health Care Providers. The course is done in a classroom environment and has a length of about 5.5 hours. The cost is approximately $110.
- ProCPR Online BLS Certification: They offer 100% online BLS certification without the need to step into a classroom. Their online nationally-recognized certification program adheres to the ECC/ILCOR and American Heart Association guidelines. The course modules and online exam take approximately 1–2 hours with a cost of $49.95. Visit ProCPR to learn more.
Getting Your BLS Certification Online
The American Heart Association has the option to replace the classroom training portion of the certification with their online BLS training courses. However, they will still require you to do an in-person skills test before issuing your certification.
You do the bulk of your learning online with their videos and reading materials. Their standard online BLS course, called BLS for Healthcare Providers Online, costs $22.
If you elect for the HeartCode® course which is slightly more expensive ($28.50), you will have access to a state of the art eSimulator to place you right into virtual emergencies. Once you complete one of these online BLS classes, you will then be required to have your skills tested in person by an AHA instructor, which has an additional cost.
If you prefer a 100% online-based certification, without the additional in-person skill evaluations, ProCPR is by far the market leader with over 600,000 Healthcare Professionals depending on them for their BLS certification.
They follow the American Heart Association guidelines and guarantee that your employer will accept their certification. Their online certification program costs $49.95. This convenient option that is rapidly growing in popularity.